Each week in partnership with the Merced County Office of Education we highlight North Valley leaders and programs specializing in early childhood education.

MCOE’s IMPACT Program provides resources and coaching to caregivers and childcare providers across the county.

With Kyrie running around and little Ellie talking up a storm Valerie Mitchell has her hands full. She’s been running her own childcare over 18 years.

Now, with the help of MCOE IMPACT she has the help and support of a coach for everything from teaching practices, to certifications, or help in trouble.

“She coaches me getting my CDA to see where I am. She helps me a little bit with everything. Emotional and physical support too,” said Mitchell. 

The program is helping her develop as a caretaker and teacher for her little ones.

“If I’m not healthy, they’re not going to be healthy. They are here all day — the majority of their time. I need to stay healthy so they can stay healthy,” she said.

Early Childhood Assistant Superintendent Christie Hendricks said strong teachers are vital for a child’s development.

“A child’s brain is 8% percent developed by age three. So those early interactions with caregivers are critical for a child’s social and emotional development as well as their cognitive development,” she said.

For even a seasoned professional like Valerie, knowing she’s not alone means the world.

“Oh it’s everything. They are everything. I couldn’t do without them,” she said.

If you would like to become a childcare provider or are looking to put your child in childcare — call Merced County Office of Education’s Early Childhood Department: (209)-381-6793.