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Opportunity Village students train for jobs in child care

Posted 4/29/2016

Cooperative Extension teams up to provide vocational training

diaper changing lesson

(Left to Right) Sherrice Smith, Instructor at Sunrise Children’s Foundation Early Head Start Program, demonstrates how to change a diaper to Opportunity Village student Emily

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has partnered with Sunrise Children’s Foundation Early Head Start Program to provide child care training for students from Opportunity Village participating in the Job Discovery Program.

The Job Discovery Programs (JPD), a partnership between the Clark County School District (CCSD) and Opportunity Village, offers intensive vocational training in a natural working environment to CCSD students with disabilities, ages 18 -21. JPD students rotate through a variety of job training sites every nine weeks. Students are given the opportunity to develop and improve their vocational skills in several areas including: commercial and industrial kitchen work, indoor and outdoor maintenance, retail, grounds keeping, custodial and child care.

Prior to working in Early Head Start child care classrooms, JDP students must obtain a sheriff’s card, become CPR certified, and attend required classes. In April, students attended the Child Care Provider Training Program offered by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at the Sunrise Children’s Foundation. Training focused on five different topics: Healthy Living and Obesity Prevention, Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect, Signs and Symptoms of Illness, Child Development, and Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“These classes are required by the state of Nevada for everyone that works in child care centers,” stated Cathy Peshlakai, Children, Youth and Families Program Officer at Cooperative Extension. “It’s really wonderful to teach the students and help them learn how to recognize different illnesses, how to properly hand wash, and participate in activities such as “how to change a baby’s diaper.”

After students are trained, they are able to work in Early Head Start, assisting the lead teachers in providing care for infants and toddlers.

Sherrice Smith, Infant Teacher for Early Head Start, shared why she believes it’s important to work side by side with the JPD students.

“To model. To show them how it’s done because sometimes the Opportunity Village students are kind of hesitant and kind of nervous working with young children,” said Smith. “As you mingle with them and help them out then they feel more confident.”

Sarah Wright, Early Childhood Trainer for Cooperative Extension, provided training on SIDS.

She said, “The Opportunity Village students will be going into Early Head Start centers and working directly with the children and their families and we want to make sure they have current information for caring for infants and toddlers. My favorite part is knowing that I might be making a difference in the lives of these students and their families.”

For Peshlakai, the Opportunity Village students who work in infant and toddler classrooms serve as positive examples of hope for parents of young children with disabilities.

“The parents who bring their young children with challenges into the child care centers see that there is hope for their child. They see that their child can contribute to the community even as they’re older,” added Peshlakai. “Opportunity Village has such great programs and this teaming with Sunrise Children’s Early Head Start Program is just perfect.”

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