St. Louis resident Shirley Gorman has been in the child care field for over 30 years. The majority has been spent as a school teacher, but for the past two years have been spent watching her three grandchildren ­– Zoe, Caleb and Kelsi – in her home while their parents work during the day.

While Gorman has extensive child care experience, she openly admits she still has a lot to learn when it comes to watching her grandchildren. Because of this, Gorman enrolled in ARCHS’ Educare to improve her home child care center.

“It’s been a great benefit. We sometimes become complacent when it comes to our grandchildren or children and ARCHS’ Educare has made me realize I need to do the same for my grandchildren as I would for any other child I would care for,” Gorman said. “I enrolled in Educare to receive all the help I could get to help educate them (the children). I’ve been receiving educational books, free workshops, CPR training and in-home visits from ARCHS’ staff.”

In 2009, ARCHS was selected by the State of Missouri to assume responsibility for the Educare programs in the City of St. Louis. The following year, ARCHS was once again chosen by the state to expand its role and ensure that quality Educare programming was provided to the entire region.

ARCHS’ Educare aims to improve the quality of child care for Missouri’s children between the ages of birth to five-years-old, with an emphasis on birth to 36 months. Educare is one of four early childhood initiatives that ARCHS supports on behalf of the Department of Social Services (DSS), Children’s Division.

Educare is open to registered/unlicensed child care providers who have signed up with the state to provide care for four or fewer children. ARCHS’ Educare provides training and technical assistance to unregulated child care home providers, who will receive personalized education using the Emotional Beginnings curriculum. On-site consultations will also be provided on how to improve the quality of child care programs by ARCHS’ staff.

ARCHS’ Educare currently serves over 80 home care providers in the City of St. Louis and counties of Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Louis, Warren and Washington.

Educare benefits the child care provider by helping them become more marketable and helping children in their home program get ready for success in school. Participants also receive educational materials and handouts to share with their families and they have the opportunity to meet other home providers in the area.

While she recently enrolled in August, Gorman attests to the many benefits Educare is providing not only her, but her grandchildren with. One of the more surprising benefits Gorman received is when she attended ARCHS’ 2nd Annual Early Childhood Institute in early October and won a large alphabet play rug, a bookshelf and various educational toys.

“I was very surprised to win,” Gorman said. “The kids love all of it. They play with it all the time.”