For the Press
A New Childcare Alternative
In-the-Home Care by Experienced Educators
Many parents looking for childcare would love to hire a teacher to ensure that their children do more than watch "Arthur" and "Blues Clues" all day, but the expense of engaging a classroom-credentialed caregiver is prohibitive for many families. Now a new program called TeacherShare enables two families to split the fee, lowering the cost per family to day care-equivalent rates.
TeacherShare is an expansion of a teacher/family service that has been offered for 14 years by TeacherCare Inc., the country's only business dedicated to placing teachers with families seeking quality in-the-home educational childcare. Virtually all of the agency's placements to date have been one-teacher-per-family arrangements, but a few teacher-sharing arrangements and rising demand prompted the addition of a shared option.
"More people today understand the importance of early brain stimulation for child development, and as a result we are not only placing more teachers every year but also receiving more inquiries from people who are interested in sharing a teacher/caregiver with a relative, neighbor or co-worker for affordability purposes," said TeacherCare president and founder Terri Brax. "We launched TeacherShare to answer that need."
Cost depends on variables such as the market and the number of hours, but full-time care typically ranges from $178 per child per week when split between four children to $325 per child in a two-child sharing arrangement. Clients have the option to use one or both houses based on their preferences and if one home is better equipped to accommodate the larger group than the other.
The agency carefully interviews and screens teacher candidates. TeacherCare then presents job descriptions from client families to allow teachers to select the one-on-one or shared-family placements with which they are most comfortable. Families receive one or more teacher portfolios to review and decide who to interview. In addition, TeacherCare provides carefully-designed resources and materials to facilitate the natural process of learning that can happen in the home with a one-on-one professional.
The service is currently available through TeacherCare offices in the Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles areas and will soon be offered at additional locations in other metropolitan areas.
Brax launched TeacherCare in suburban Chicago in 1993 in response to frustration with her own childcare search. She was dissatisfied with the nannies she saw caring for friends' children, and she disliked the impersonal nature of the daycare centers she evaluated.
When a friend hired a teacher to care for her young children, Brax noticed the close relationship they developed as well as the creative activities the young woman devised to keep her little students happily and productively occupied. She started her business out of an intuitive sense that these kinds of activities would benefit young children.
Today that hypothesis is universally accepted, based in part on brain scans showing that a child's brain forms the tree-like network of nerve connections that are critical to thinking and learning only after birth. Researchers have determined that 75% of brain growth is completed by the age of six, and that environmental factors affect how the intricate circuitry of the brain is wired during those early years. Nurture, then, can be just as important as nature in child brain development.
"A lot of our early clients were neuroscientists and early childhood professors who understood the importance of brain stimulation because of their professional training. Now the public at large is catching on," Brax said. "But the research also shows that a strong relationship with a nurturing adult is critical for healthy child development. It is almost impossible to build that kind of bond in a daycare center or a preschool. With a TeacherCaregiver, you get both."
Teachers associated with TeacherCare provide a wide range of thoughtful and engaging learning activities tailored to the needs, ages and changing interests of the children under their care. These activities include arts and crafts that promote fine motor skills to music, dancing and storytelling. Making paper plate porcupines may be turned into an opportunity to learn about these prickly mammals, while the family kitchen may be transformed into a pots-and-pans symphony for younger children or a lesson in measurement for older siblings.
"Last year was our biggest ever, and were now receiving calls from all over the country for our services," Brax said. "It's a clear sign that parents are getting the message."
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