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).


Hear from child care providers about their YoungStar experiences!

YoungStar is Wisconsin’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System, that Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) works to implement across the state. Hear from a few Wisconsin providers about the difference that YoungStar made in their child care programs.


Parents and family support professionals can visit the parent portion of the YoungStar site for more information on how families can use YoungStar to choose quality child care for their children. See more videos on the SFTA YouTube channel.

One Child Care Program’s YoungStar Success: Doll’s Day Care

Click below to read about the success of Doll’s Day Care and visit SFTA’s Join YoungStar page to learn more about YoungStar, Wisconsin’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement Program. Check out our success story page for more stories of programs succeeding through YoungStar.


A Peek at a Parent Café: The Parenting Place

A series of Parent Cafés, coordinated state wide by Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) and planned locally by some of our member agencies, have kicked off with the first café of the year in Tomah, Wisconsin. The Parenting Place did a fantastic job with their café on the theme of “Taking Care of Yourself,” starting off with a healthy family breakfast for children and parents to eat together before children went to another room where child care was provided, so parents and caregivers could engage in peer-to-peer discussion. After getting to know one another through active listening, parents participated in several small group discussions guided by a parent or agency staff member using a parent café tool kit that focuses questions on building the protective factors. Eventually the goal is for all café discussions to be led by parents who are familiar with the process. At the end of these discussions parents shared some final thoughts they gained from the café:

  • I realize that there are others around you who are strong and can be a source of support
  • Often children of different ages pose the same challenges
  • I am not the only one dealing with different issues within my family
  • It is important to be my best self to be the best parent I can be, and everyone wants the best for their kids
  • It is okay to do for myself (self-care)
  • You are not perfect and you are not expected to be

Closing words shared by participants proved the café a success, expressing their café experience with sentiments such as “community,” “perspective,” “comfort” and “balance.” A few lucky participants went home with gift certificates from local businesses to pamper themselves, and children took home an art project they worked on about healthy bodies. Here are a few of the decoration and other ideas from this café, to inspire your own:

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Interested in attending a parent café in Wisconsin, or learning more about parent cafés? Check out the SFTA website.

Do you know about Wisconsin’s FREE Child Care Resource & Referral Services?

Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) supports our statewide member Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) in providing FREE child care referrals and information to parents and child care providers about child development, quality early care and education, and positive parenting.


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Please share this valuable community resource with the parents and caregivers in your life. Learn more about SFTA and our work on behalf of Wisconsin children and families through our website and social media.
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