Category Archives: Providers

Help for “Quarantine Fatigue”

by Kristin Cofield, Family Engagement Specialist

After two months of social distance and stay-at-home orders, many people may experience physical and emotional drain.  As our awareness about COVID-19 heightened, we went into crisis mode.  There was a lot of anxiety, panic, fear, and a need to make quick decisions for the best interest of our families and those we love.  It is difficult and unhealthy to maintain a state of crisis.  Eventually, reality sets in, and our mind will adapt to our current environment or situation. 

Even for those of us who may have welcomed the break in extended family obligations and an over-scheduled calendar, we still miss and crave the human connections we enjoyed. We are social creatures designed to interact with others. 

Now, a whole new type of uncertainty is creeping in as we reopen and return to some previous activities.  You may feel overwhelmed and stressed by the many unanswered questions and the unpredictability of our state. You are most likely feeling the effects of quarantine fatigue if you have felt this way:

  • Irritable or feeling on edge
  • Stressed, anxious, or having racing thoughts
  • Eating more or eating less
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Unmotivated or less productive

May is Mental Health Month, which is a great reminder about how essential it is to monitor and take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Everyone reacts differently in a crisis.  Living through a pandemic is stressful and may cause your feelings to change over time.  If distress impacts your daily life for several weeks, consider seeking support.  If you or someone you care about are feeling overwhelmed or showing signs of distress, consider talking to someone about your concerns and feelings.  Looking for a place to start? Here’s just a sampling of licensed counselors able to support you:

Help for Local “Front Line” Child Care Professionals

Updated as of July 22, 2020.

There’s been so much talk about the “front line” during the COVID-19 pandemic: medical professionals, emergency personnel, grocery workers. But, we know that there are so many child care programs who are still open and still providing quality care for the children of those going in to work every day. We strongly believe you are front line and essential too!

These are unusual times and create unusual circumstances. Your needs are different from what they were a month ago. Or, the unfulfilled needs you had before are now amplified to a critical point. There are so many businesses and agencies looking for a way to help – connect with some of these Central Indiana resources below! Are you a business or service that can help? Let us know!

Supplies and materials

ACA Cleaning Supply Vendors: A good comprehensive list of where you might start to find cleaning supplies.

Indiana Diaper Bank Partners: If you have a family in need of diapers, you can refer them to one of Indiana Diaper Bank’s distributing partners.

Health and sanitation procedures

COVID-19 Testing through Optum: If you have symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or in a high risk group, many options are available across Central Indiana for FREE testing.

Indiana State Department of Health: Answers to FAQs about COVID-19, specifically related to child care programs.

CDC Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open: Information on preparedness and planning, social distancing, cleaning, interactions with families, and more.

Financial and business support

Indy Chamber Rapid Response Hub: Information on local resources for loans, finding employees, legal support, and more.

SCORE Business Mentoring: Get FREE guidance from an experienced business professional in how to move forward with your program in these trying times.

KHWPRW: Resource bank for Central Indiana, including links to a number of grants and loans.

General support

Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning: The state of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration has all hands on deck to ensure you have the resources you need for your child care program and to support your familes and children.

Child Care Aware of America: National resource for business supports, how to connect with families, policies affecting your program, and more.

Afterschool Alliance: Answers to FAQs for those providing care to school agers, including guidance on precautions, meals, staff, family support, and more.

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COVID-19: Your resource for resources

Updated July 22, 2020

You may feel like the world we’re living in has gone wild- it’s definitely not the same Central Indiana we were living in during February. It can be overwhelming to digest all of the ever-changing news about COVID-19, whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a child care administrator, a business owner, or a supporter of early care and education.

We may not have all the answers, but we know a lot of smart people and caring organizations who do.  As you’re navigating these new changes, we recommend consulting some of these resources.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Get the latest recommendations for prevention and resources if you think you are sick.

Anthem Community Resource Link: Type in your zip code and get hundreds of resources, based on your needs. Categories include food, housing, health, work, legal, money, and more!

Child Care Aware of America: The latest Coronavirus news and resources for Child Care Professionals, Families and Policymakers.


Your Child – Tips for Parents: We’re continually updating our resources for parents, including Transitioning Back to School in the “New Normal”, eLearning Success Tips, and at-home activity ideas.

WFYI At-Home: Guides and links for helping your little one continue their educational journey from home.

Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY): Making Connections During Social Distancing: This page offers resources such as how to keep your kids busy and informed, food and employment assistance resources, and mental health resources.

Family Promise of Hendricks County: Contact Family Promise if you are a Hendricks County resident and need emergency assistance with items such as utilities, food, phones, or internet.

Good Samaritan Network: Hamilton County’s collaborative/network of non-profits.


Help for Local “Front Line” Child Care Professionals: Check out our recent blog post, specifically for child care programs currently in operation.

Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL): The state of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration has all hands on deck to ensure you have the resources you need for your child care program and to support your familes and children.


IndyChamber: Rapid Response Hub – Resources and FAQs for small business owners, including child care programs.

Indiana Small Business Development Center – Resources for funding, counseling, and advising on your small business or child care.


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Changes are coming to Child Care Answers!

As a child care provider, we hope that you’ve been hearing about the statewide changes in your support set forth by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. Starting October 1, things will look different in Indiana’s child care resource & referral agencies, which means the support you’ve been receiving from Child Care Answers will change.

You probably have many questions, which is understandable. We hope to answer as many questions for you as possible, but please ask anything else you want to know in the comments below. We will continually update this post with answers as we get them.

After October 1, can I still go to Child Care Answers with questions or support requests?

As of October 1, all counties will now be served by one of five local child care resource and referral agencies. You’ll still have support. If your program is in Hamilton, Hendricks, or Marion counties, you will continue to come to us here at Child Care Answers. Brown, Bartholomew, and Johnson counties should go to their new agency, Chances and Services for Youth (CASY) for ongoing support. Visit to learn about your new agency.

Will you continue to offer professional development and trainings?

Child Care Answers will no longer create and facilitate trainings for child care providers in-house; however, that doesn’t mean that professional development is going away! You can continue to find and register for professional development in I-LEAD through Indiana Learning Paths.

What about Paths to QUALITY (PTQ)? Will I still be able to keep my coach?

You will begin to see a transition of coaching supports starting October 1. Child Care Answers will no longer offer coaching and PTQ supports. From October 1st through June 30th, Indiana AEYC will provide support as needed to providers. Contact Indiana AEYC at 1-855-484-2392 ex. 3546 or

Starting July 1, 2020, Paths To Quality coaching will be implemented by SPARK Learning Lab; look for additional communication about your specific situation in the coming weeks.

Will the support I receive from a SPARK Learning Lab coach stay the same?

You will receive additional information in the coming months about how to participate in a self-assessment to determine the level of support needed for your program. Based on the results, your support may look like one of the following:

    • You’ll receive a plan of action and tools such as digital professional development, resource libraries, and help desk support. You’ll also be able to connect with other Early Childhood professionals at monthly virtual events and quarterly in-person events. (Tier 1)
    • In addition to Tier 1 support, you may be eligible for video coaching, small-group sessions, or enhanced professional development to assist you in implementing a program development plan. (Tier 2)
    • A subset of providers will work with coaches to focus on both development plans and quality improvement plans. (Tier 3)
    All three tiers include opportunities to work in person with coaches in order to receive face-to-face professional development.

What about Safe Sleep, Child Abuse & Neglect, and other mandated trainings?

After October 1, SPARK Learning Lab will be hosting all state-mandated trainings. Face-to-face safe sleep sessions will be offered twice monthly in the Indianapolis area. Face-to-face sessions will cover both Safe Sleep Module 1 (general) and Safe Sleep Module 2 (specific for child care providers).  View SPARK’s Training Calendar.

In addition to the face-to-face safe sleep sessions, SPARK will offer an online option through Indiana Learning Paths beginning in October. You will register separate for Safe Sleep 1 and Safe Sleep 2; you must take both modules to fulfill the requirement. As always, the refresher course does not count toward the requirement.

You will continue to register for both face-to-face and online sessions through I-LEAD and Indiana Learning Paths. Learn more about how to register.

I’m considering opening a child care business. Is Child Care Answers still the right place to start?

Yes! Our dedication continues to support professionals on the road to success to get licensed; will continue this as a focus into 2020 and beyond. See our Learn How to Become a Provider page or contact us for more information on next steps. Remember – if you’re in Bartholomew, Brown, or Johnson counties, you should contact new agency, Chances and Services for Youth (CASY), after October 1.

Can I still come to Child Care Answers until September 30th?

Absolutely! Our coaches and specialists are still available to chat with you about your program and to offer technical assistance. We also have state-mandated trainings, such as Safe Sleep, that we will be offering through September 30.

Do you have additional questions? Please comment below!

I-LEAD: What You Need to Know

We hope you’ve been hearing all about I-LEAD, the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning’s new online tool, designed for child care providers just like you. I-LEAD, short for the Indiana Licensing & Education Access Depot, is designed to make licensing, background checks and professional development easier to access and update.

We here at Child Care Answers have been learning more about it since it launched July 9,  just like you have. We want to make sure you have the best and most up-to-date information…and this post is a great place to start! As time goes on, we’ll continue to refine our knowledge and get answers to your questions. Keep checking back!


Want an overview of creating an I-LEAD account, adding staff as a provider admin, and/or registering for professional development in Indiana Learning Paths? Check out these resources!

Webinar: Creating an Account, Provider Admin, Indiana Learning Paths

Quick Start Guide: Registering for professional development
Want a brief how-to on the steps you need to take to register for your professional development? See our How to register webpage, which walks you through each step.

I-LEAD Help Support Website
Watch video snippets and read how-to articles based on your needs at You can also contact the Solution Center through this site to get one-on-one support.



Provider Admins can track the educator invites they trigger in I-LEAD by following these steps:

  • Find the educator you want to track in your listing of educators.
  • Click View Details next to his/her name.
  • Find the Invite Status option.  This shows both the status of the invite and how many times it’s been sent.

You can also resend the invite from this screen; the email can be updated when that option is used.



The consent form is visible in the upper right hand corner – only AFTER a provider admin adds the educator to the Associated Educator list. If you don’t see your consent form, connect with your program’s admin to ensure you’re correctly associated with your program.

You’ll also notice in the screenshot above that provider admins can switch views to see the educators they manage and the providers they work for.



No. As of now, you can keep your same password until you want to change it again.



Contact the I-LEAD Solution Center! You can reach them through:

  • website: Submit a ticket with details on your problem.;
  • Email: Send the Solution Center the details of your problem to; OR
  • Phone: Prefer to talk with a helpful solution center agent? Call 800-299-1627, Monday-Thursday 8 am-7 pm or Friday 8 am- 5 pm.

DOES SOMEONE SPEAK SPANISH IN THE SOLUTION CENTER? Hay alguien que hable español en el centro de llamadas?

Yes! If you leave a voicemail, email, or ticket in Spanish, one of our bilingual team members will get back to you. Si, si usted deja un mensaje de voz o un email en español, una de nuestras especialistas bilingüe le devolverá la llamada.

Provider Spotlight: Nakisha Gaddie

by Stephanie Ries, Paths to QUALITY™ Coach

As a Paths to QUALITY™ coach, I work with dozens of providers, helping them to create quality environments for children. With each provider I help to advance a level, I feel a sense of pride in the provider’s accomplishments.

Sometimes, though, a very special provider rises to the top. These special people go above and beyond to embody success in serving children. One of these providers is Nakisha Gaddie, a certified ministry provider at Great Horizons Child Care.


Although child care ministries are not required to be licensed in the state of Indiana, we encourage them to complete the Voluntary Certification Program (VCP), a prerequisite for the Paths to QUALITY™ quality rating improvement system. The VCP process generally takes providers 8-14 months to complete – and Kisha completed it in less than three months! Her diligence and determination to attain all of the requirements for VCP was astonishing. I hadn’t, and still haven’t, had anyone complete this process so quickly. She immediately started the Paths to QUALITY™ process and is looking to fast-track to Level 3 within the month.


Becoming the best possible version of yourself as a child care provider is just as important as checking all the boxes to create a great program. Kisha embodies this idea. She is on her way to completing her Director’s Credential at Ivy Tech Community College.  The T.E.A.C.H. program also recently approved her scholarship to complete her B.A. in Early Childhood Education.


Kohl’s recently saw the leadership potential in Kisha and demonstrated their confidence by recognizing her with their Kohl’s Cares grant. She has proven herself so well to the grantees that they are now utilizing her talents and skills to advocate for early childhood education.

As a part of her role as a Kohl’s Cares grant recipient, Kisha was also recently chosen to represent Indiana as a part of the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (ECCS CoIIN). She will travel to Arlington, VA this month to participate in the ECCS CoIIN Learning Session.

Kohl’s also recently asked her to speak on behalf of motherhood and caring for children at a Community Baby Shower event, presented in partnership with Kohl’s Cares and the Riley Children’s Foundation. Not only did she successfully navigate outside of her comfort zone to be a speaker, but she also jumped into action with her natural gifts of caring for children during the event. While waiting to give her speech, Kisha heard some chaos in the area where others were caring for children. She couldn’t help but go where she was needed and stepped in to help with the children. View this great video showing all the good that happened at the Kohl’s Cares Baby Shower.

I am so honored to walk alongside Kisha as her coach. I have full confidence that she will, and already has, impacted the lives of so many children. Congratulations, Kisha!

Healthy Eating and Cooking with Children

by Molly Manley, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Coordinator

Looking for a way to learn and grow with your kids, while also promoting healthy eating? Get on your aprons, and get ready to whip up something delicious with your children or those in your care. Cooking with children can promote lifetime skills such as:

  • Basic Math – Cooking involves counting, addition, shapes, sizes, and measurements.
  • Science – Highlight growing food or changing forms, like liquids and solids.
  • Language – Conversations with children while cooking will increase their language development and ability to follow instructions. Creating simple recipe cards with instructions is also a useful tool. Obtain children’s books from the library that pertain to the type of foods they will be eating.
  • Art – Have children draw pictures of the foods they ate.  Ask them to create a picture by painting with yogurt, or glue cereal to a piece of paper.


Cooking with children also encourages them to explore new foods and how food gets to our tables. Discuss where food comes from, plant a garden, or take a field trip to the grocery store or a farm. This will give them a better understanding of what they are eating.

It would also be a good idea to shop around for child size utensils, cups, bowls and pitchers. This will make it easier for the child to prepare and serve themselves. We are promoting self-help skills, and, if the child has a difficult time succeeding, it may prompt them to quit out of frustration.


Below are three simple recipes to try with children.

Fruit and Yogurt Muffin

1 Whole Grain English Muff
¼ cup of Yogurt- any flavor
¼ cup of fruit- bananas and berries work well

Adult: Portion out yogurt and fruit for each child separately.
Adult: Toast English Muffin.
Child: Spread yogurt over English muffin using a spoon.
Child: Add fruit to top.

Pizza Rollups

1 tube of crescent rolls
1 jar of pizza sauce
1 package of string cheese – cut into quarters (1 ounce each)
1 bag of pepperoni- cut into quarters, unless using minis

Adult: Unroll crescent roll dough, separate into 8 triangles.
Child: Place 8 pepperoni pieces on each.
Child: Place a piece of cheese on the short side of the triangle.
Child: Roll up dough starting on the short side and pinch seams to seal.
Adult: Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Cook at 375 for 10-12 minutes

Serve with ¼ cup of warm pizza sauce
Makes a 8 roll ups.

Celery Snails

1 bunch of celery –  washed and cut in halves
Apples –  cut into slices small enough to fit into celery
Peanut or Almond Butter

Adult: Wash and cut celery and apples to appropriate size.
Child:  Spread peanut or almond butter on celery pieces.
Child: Insert apple into middle of celery.

Cover image by Flickr user Andrew Seaman, Creative Commons license.

What to do when the flu hits your program

by Shannon Ford, Professional Development Coordinator

You’ve done everything right to prepare for flu season this year in your child care program. Your staff all got their flu shots. All of your children’s vaccination records are up-to-date. You’ve been sanitizing like crazy. Yet – bam! – the flu is here! What do you do next?


Flu is a tough bug to figure out sometimes. Many symptoms – like coughing, stuffy nose, and sore throat – can mimic the common cold. Other symptoms – like a fever – sometimes, but not always, present themselves.

Emergency warning signs also appear differently in children than they do in adults. If you notice any of the following, get medical help right away1:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
  • Infants who are unable to eat, have no tears when crying, or have significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

And, remember – you should be aware of symptoms in adults that come in contact with the children as well. Family members, staff, and other visitors are also likely to spread the virus.


We’re all used to sniffles and sneezes and snotty noses. However, if a child has the symptoms of flu (ex. fever) AND these respiratory symptoms during flu season, you should exclude him or her from care2. Because the flu is so easily transmitted through little coughs and sneezes, this is one of the most common ways it spreads.

Sometimes, a little guy or girl is just too puny to do what everyone else in the class is doing. If he or she requires so much additional care from staff that the teacher isn’t able to attend to others, it’s time to consider a call home to Mom or Dad.


Your first step is always to make the child’s parent or guardian aware when you suspect that he or she has the flu.

If a doctor or nurse practitioner diagnoses two or more children or staff members with the influenza virus,  Licensing3 requires directors to immediately notify all family members and staff that they have been exposed. To do this, you can post on the door or another conspicuous place something like, “Cases of Influenza have been diagnosed in someone who has been in this building.”  Or, you may give a personal note to each parent or staff member.

Have information pamphlets available on hand should family members or staff have additional questions. See the American Academy of Pediatrics website for suggestions.


Directors’ jobs aren’t done when families and staff are notified. They also need to ensure that they are meeting all the licensing requirements3 to report the incidents of flu as necessary. Keep in mind that you must complete AT LEAST one of the following tasks. Depending on the situation, it may be beneficial for you to reach out to more than one resource for guidance.

  • Consult your local health department.
  • Call your licensing consultant.


It essentially all boils down to this sobering fact; the health and safety of little people are in your hands. Be aware, follow through, and do what’s in the best interest of the children in your care.



Make the most of your professional development

by Mollie Smith, CDA Coordinator

Fill in the blank: “I am a professional ________________________.” Say that five times to yourself.  Then, sit back and think, “What have I done to maintain that I know what I am doing in my job, and that I do it well?” That, my friends, is the beginning of professional development.


When I jumped into the education world, I did not have the confidence that I was a professional. I was, however,  surrounded by great people that named me as a professional. I started as a first grade teacher, and my goal was to keep my head above water. Who had time to be professionally developed? I was learning the art of helping a 6-year-old with a bloody nose while the phone is ringing from the front office, in the middle of learning fractions with shaving cream.  Oh yes, and did I mention the fire alarm went off? Perfect. I was not a professional anything at that point. Or was I?

If you would have asked me about professional development, I would have laughed. I do not have the time or money to go away to a conference and listen to someone tell me how to become a better teacher. Here’s the thing. I was developing as a professional each day. Every time I asked a question, took in the answer, and then made the best judgement of application into my classroom for the needs of my students, I was becoming better at what I did.

Go back to the beginning of this and fill in the blank: “I am a professional ________________________.” Sit down and think, “What have I done to maintain that I know what I am doing in my job, and that I do it well?” Does it sound a little different than the first time? I hope so.


I have been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people. I am not speaking about only educators. There were days that my biggest hero was Tom, our building custodian. You can only handle so many spills, overflowing sinks, and sick kids before waving the white flag and asking for help.

As a professional, you learn how to deal with the many situations presented to you, some only learning once that experience knocks on your door. After I got over the hump of ‘knowing what I was supposed to be doing’, I then had more time to seek out items that I was interested in and felt would benefit my students. I attended workshops and conferences with my team, discussed what we learned that was new, and put that plan into action. We would then revisit to see what was working and what presented chaos and confusion. This was professional development – not as hard as I thought it would be. It was work, but it was work that would help me become better.

Go back to the beginning of this and fill in the blank: “I am a professional ________________________.” Sit down and think,”What have I done to maintain that I know what I am doing in my job, and that I do it well?”  Now we can add,”Have I learned something new and applied it?” Growing as a professional, now aren’t we?


As I continued to grow comfortable in my role, I began to feel more confident as a professional. The more workshops and conferences I attended, my knowledge base was growing. I was becoming a better teacher. During my 4th year of teaching, teacher evaluations (completed by my Vice Principal) came, and he challenged me with a new scenario. He said, “Invite me in your room during a time that you find as the hardest part of your day.” Hmm, did I really want my principal to see me failing? What was he thinking? After we discussed more, I began to warm up to the idea. How will I get better in my areas of weakness if I never allow anyone to see it? After agreeing on the idea, I was still quite nervous about the idea. My VP was going to tell me all of the things I’m doing wrong! Fabulous.

Believe it or not, that was the best thing that I have ever done. Of course, he knew I was nervous during post-observation conversation, so he did a great job of talking me off the ledge. He started out with, “Well if you thought that was failure, failure isn’t so bad!” It was great to have feedback with areas that I struggled with. He gave suggestions, compared it back to what I was doing well, and then scheduled another observation (not required) the next month to monitor progress. Wait a minute! I was gathering feedback from another professional to become a better professional, to be more successful.


Drum roll please…at that point. I was a professional. And, I finally:

  • Knew what I was supposed to be doing
  • Was doing it well
  • Learned new ideas
  • Applied those with feedback from colleagues, putting myself in a rather uncomfortable situation to be observed where I wasn’t the best, and,
  • After discussion and feedback, reflected to see how I can make changes and to keep moving forward

I am a professional adult educator who believes ongoing professional development is the key to being successful. So, start your professional development journey and reflect…

What is your profession and how do you make sure you do it well?

Easing Children’s Fears during Emergencies

by Katherine Darby, Infant/Toddler Specialist

We never stop worrying about our kids, and we work hard to keep them from harm. Severe weather and emergency drills are unexpected and unstoppable things that can all be very scary for young children. Children become afraid when things happen that are out of their control, when they don’t understand, and when something unexpected occurs.  By preparing children for these events, we can help ease their fears.


Be careful that you are not fueling a child’s fears. If you panic, they will panic too. It is important for you to remain calm during unexpected situations, because your children will be looking to you for guidance. The best way to remain as calm as possible is to prepare and practice.


We do fire drills so we know where to go if there is a fire. We practice tornado drills so we know where to go to keep us safe. Have practice drills in case the power goes out. Where can your child find a flash light? This practice helps to prepare not just the children, but us adults as well. Having a plan, being informed, and knowing what to expect is extremely beneficial when seconds count.

Prepare children as to what they should expect using language they understand. Talk about what is happening and why it happens. This is a great way to help ease anxiety and fears about the unexpected because it is no longer a mysterious thing.

“The fire alarm will flash a very bright light and make a very loud noise; it might hurt your ears.”

“The alarm has to be loud so we know to leave the building to stay safe.”

“When we see the bright lightening, there may be a big BOOM from thunder.”

Doing research together is another way to help a young child to better understand what is happening and what to expect. Get books about thunder from the library, watch videos about storms on YouTube, watch rain showers from the window. Do make sure any materials you get are developmentally appropriate for your child.


Let your child know it is okay to be scared and that you are there to keep them safe. You may have a child who was never fearful of loud sounds and suddenly he is terrified at the first clap of thunder and flash of lightening. Be understanding of your children’s fears and take them seriously. It may seem silly or nothing to worry about to you, but, to the child, it is a real and scary thing. Ask a child what they need from you to help calm them.

Every child deals with unexpected events in their own way. It is important to know and respecting a child’s feelings while teaching them appropriate ways they can cope.