YoungStar Micro-Grants at Work

MGpic8Kids at First Child Care Center in Rice Lake was excited to recently receive their second micro-grant as a YoungStar participating program. Karin Lindau, the Director, worked closely with the program’s Technical Consultant, Lisa Cottrell, on planning how to best use the micro-grant funds to add onto their outdoor play area.

“Planning how to use the micro-grant was a lot of fun,” said Karin. “Lisa was great about helping.”

Together, Karin, a co-worker and Lisa planned what activity areas to add to the outdoorMGpic13 area, and made a list of materials that could be purchased using the micro-grant funds to create those areas. From there, Karin and Lisa worked with Supporting Families Together Association Micro-Grant Program Specialists to purchase or receive reimbursement for the needed materials.

Karin emphasized that being able to buy locally and receive reimbursement, an option that the SFTA Micro-Grant Program has brought to the forefront in the last year, really allowed her to make the most of her funding.

“The grant made it possible to be able to do all of it in one swoop instead of just little chunks,” stated Karin. “It just feels like we are dreaming when we get $1,000 for a grant.”

MGpic9Using creativity, micro-grant funds and donated time from parishioners at the church where the program is housed, they bought lumber and built gardening beds for the kids to plant, harvest and sample seasonal vegetables. High school students volunteered to paint colorful murals on the back of the church shed that faces the playground and the micro-grant funds covered the paint.

Lisa and Karin worked together to build a water play area using a lattice and purchasedMGpic3 attachments so that kids could funnel, dump and play with water outdoors. A sound wall with various materials and instruments was built for kids to experiment with sound, and a large weaving loom was constructed and woven through with scarves and fabric for sensory and gross motor play. Finally, they added a shaded area for kids to go to read or have quiet time. All of the new outdoor activities were in place for several months before cold weather hit, allowing children and staff to put the areas to use this past summer and fall.

“The new activities just give the kids a lot more choices,” said Karin, “and it just seems like it’s less chaos.”

The Micro-Grant Program housed at Supporting Families Together Association grants funding to support the Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) developed by child care providers in collaboration with their Technical Consultants, who guide providers in implementing their QIP as part of the YoungStar technical assistance process. Learn more on the Micro-Grant Program webpage.

(This article was originally published in Supporting Families Together Association’s Q4 2017 newsletter. View all of our past newsletters on our website, or sign up to receive quarterly newsletters).

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