Middle Way House daycare recognized by state


Childcare Coordinator Marcella Ettinger displays the level 3 achievement outside the daycare, in the courtyard at Middle Way House. Courtesy Photo and Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Middle Way House’s Rise & Shine Daycare recently received recognition from the state of Indiana as a Level 3 Paths to QUALITY facility.

The recognition means Middle Way House is providing a higher quality of care for the children they serve, community programs coordinator Debra Morrow said. Middle Way House is a nonprofit organization that serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Our families that we serve are either in our transitional housing program or in our shelter, and these are families that childcare can be a real challenge for, especially quality childcare,” Morrow said. “To know that we are able to make the parents feel comfortable in knowing that their children are in a safe and well-rounded environment is important.”

The Paths to QUALITY system is a childcare rating and improvement system in Indiana. According to its website, it is “a free resource to help families make informed decisions and to help early care and education providers improve the quality of their programs.”

The system has four levels. Level 3 means the childcare program uses a planned curriculum to prepare children for kindergarten and serve their developmental needs and creates a safe and supportive environment.

The Rise & Shine Daycare program stays conscious of the unique needs of children and families who are living in the organization’s emergency shelter or transitional housing, childcare coordinator Marcella Ettinger said.

“Level 3 means we are one of the higher quality programs in Monroe County,” Ettinger said. “There are not many programs that are similar to what we do.”

The Level 3 rating makes the program eligible for more funding from grants and other financial sources, Ettinger said. This includes federal funding from the Child Care and Development Fund and Chances and Services for Youth programs.

The highest rating in Paths to QUALITY is Level 4, which means the program has achieved national accreditation. Ettinger said Middle Way House will be working toward this next level in the future.

One of the biggest barriers to being able to get a job is childcare, Morrow said. Many of the people who come to Middle Way House have been prevented from working because of an abusive relationship, but Rise & Shine Daycare allows them to search for jobs with the knowledge that their children are in a safe place.

The children who come from homes with domestic violence have often experienced trauma, and the staff at Middle Way House works to addresses these difficult issues, Morrow said.

“What I appreciate so much is that our staff has an understanding of how trauma affects children and is able to work with them in a very positive way,” Morrow said.

Rise & Shine Daycare offers low-cost childcare to remain affordable for these families, Ettinger said.

“They are moving out of their home, starting new jobs, coming to different cities,” Ettinger said. “It’s really important that we provide services for low costs to help support them and allow them to save up money so they can get back on their feet.”

Ettinger said the most rewarding part about working for Rise & Shine Daycare is seeing how far the families have come.

Often the families that come to Middle Way House have uprooted their entire lives, she said.

“Watching them grow and develop is just the most incredible thing,” Ettinger said. “For both the kids and the moms, being able to support and encourage them and watch that happen is absolutely incredible.”

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