Lean Into You

Demystifying the Licensing Process in Child Care

April 06, 2022 Alex Farrell and Wesley Mayes Season 3 Episode 41
Demystifying the Licensing Process in Child Care
Lean Into You
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Lean Into You
Demystifying the Licensing Process in Child Care
Apr 06, 2022 Season 3 Episode 41
Alex Farrell and Wesley Mayes


If you have worked in child care long, chances are at some point you've associated licensing with more paper work, more rules, more regulations and you've wondered what the additional benefit is. Or maybe you have started the process to be licensed and become intimidated by how involved the process is. 

Cynthia Roberts is the Program Manager of the Pre-Licensure Unit with the Tennessee Department of Human Services. In our conversation we talk about why the licensing process is the way that it is, how providers can get started on the journey to becoming licensed, the supports available to providers along the licensing process, and finally, the benefits to being a TDHS-licensed child care facility, which we think make this process a no brainer. 

If you are interested in becoming licensed, start the process today by emailing:

This project is funded through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and Signal Centers, Inc. 

Show Notes Transcript


If you have worked in child care long, chances are at some point you've associated licensing with more paper work, more rules, more regulations and you've wondered what the additional benefit is. Or maybe you have started the process to be licensed and become intimidated by how involved the process is. 

Cynthia Roberts is the Program Manager of the Pre-Licensure Unit with the Tennessee Department of Human Services. In our conversation we talk about why the licensing process is the way that it is, how providers can get started on the journey to becoming licensed, the supports available to providers along the licensing process, and finally, the benefits to being a TDHS-licensed child care facility, which we think make this process a no brainer. 

If you are interested in becoming licensed, start the process today by emailing:

This project is funded through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and Signal Centers, Inc. 

 Demystifying the Licensing Process in Child Care

Tue, Nov 15, 2022 1:57PM • 37:55


childcare, pre licensure, licensed, people, process, support, partnering, providers, resources, cynthia, understand, agency, grant, location, children, care, helping, small business, licensed childcare, specialists


Cynthia Roberts, Alex Farrell, Wesley Mayes


Cynthia Roberts  00:00

I think a lot of people when they look at childcare when I start considering a childcare agency, they're like, I love children. And I love education. And and that's great. We want them to love the children. We want them to love educating children. But that's not all there is to it.


Alex Farrell  00:19

Everyone, this is Alex from the lean to podcast, my compadre, Wes is out of town. Fortunately, he was able to join us for this conversation with Cynthia Roberts, though, Cynthia works with the pre licensure unit for the Department of Human Services, we really wanted to talk about the pre licensure process to kind of demystify it a little bit, because if you're on the outside looking in, you might have this perception of being a licensed childcare facility as being a bunch of paperwork, a bunch of rules and regulations. And so we want to demystify that process, the steps that the department has has taken to make becoming licensed as simple as possible, the support you get along the way, and then also the benefits of becoming a licensed childcare facility in the state of Tennessee. And here's a hint, the benefits, in our opinion, far outweigh what additional responsibilities may come from being a licensed childcare facility. One of the things that sticks out the most to me about this conversation was the lengths to which the department will go to respond to the needs of providers in the field, we're always taking feedback, always responding to the need. And so a lot of the policies that you see around child care, they're very rarely ever created in a vacuum. They're always created with the end providers, and ultimately, the children and their families and mind. It was really great to just get a reminder of that in this conversation. So we hope you enjoy this conversation about demystifying the pre licensure process with Cynthia Roberts. Hey, Cynthia, how are you?


Cynthia Roberts  01:55

I'm doing well. How are you all?


Wesley Mayes  01:57

Pretty good. And well, yeah, a little tired today. But that's normal.


Cynthia Roberts  02:01

It's Thursday. So it's time to that energy level just to just to completely dropped.


Alex Farrell  02:07

West. West is in the process of moving, which is also always just the wrong system.


Wesley Mayes  02:12

Yeah. But it's pretty much done. We got it almost all finished yesterday. So that's good.


Alex Farrell  02:18

So we're super excited to have you on the show today to talk about kind of licensing and the pre licensure process, because pre licensure as a unit, with the Department of Human Services is relatively new, I believe. But before we get into that, can you just introduce yourself and kind of what you do with the pre licensure unit? Sure.


Cynthia Roberts  02:39

Yeah. My name is Cynthia Roberts. I am the program manager for the pre licensure unit. And we are a new unit we started. We went live in August, which it takes a few months to kind of get into the groove of things. But we are full steam ahead, we have a small little group and just start daily live where you are. Our focus is on opening new agencies, we all know that there's a huge need for childcare in Tennessee. And we have been working with different partners, we've been going out to different communities who are rural communities who are really struggling with childcare. And again, we're just focusing on locating these folks that are interested and getting them up and going. So that's kind of our daily live and what it looks like there's a lot of components and a lot of things that, you know, weave their way into that.


Wesley Mayes  03:40

Awesome. And I imagine that that there's those are both new providers, and then some providers that might exist that want to become licensed. What what is the what's the motivation? Why is it important to be licensed,


Cynthia Roberts  03:52

when the number one focus we have and licensing childcare is to make sure that children are safe and healthy. And we want them to be well taken care of. We want the environment to be friendly. We want these babies to be safe, and loved and educated and all these different things. And we found that a lot of people have good intentions, when they when they do childcare that's not licensed, but they don't really understand. And I always share in my trainings. Growing up I had a Miss Malone was my childcare provider, we would come to her house and she cared for infants to school aged children, and basically the infant's would stay inside and she would you know make sure they get some good rest and sleep and she would throw all of us the older kids out in the backyard. And the backyard was fencing in and she would give us this huge cooler of water and some homemade croutons that she made that owl bread and we pretty much just spend it for our sales my she had good intentions And but she didn't understand what we needed and the supervision and the safety and the help. So I think it's just the lack of understanding. And that's what we want to do in licensing is we want to partner with people, we want to teach them and educate them and give them resources and give them partners to work with, and just to make sure that they get it, that they're giving these kids what they need, and making sure these kids are safe and healthy and educated. And all those things that we know are so important. 


Alex Farrell  05:35

Sure, there's a couple things that are here. And there is I mean, you talked about their childcare deserts being a big issue. You know, for a lot of a lot of people, they may be providers currently that are licensed, or they may be acutely aware of issues within their own center. But maybe they don't know what the statewide landscape of childcare is looking like. So we are here to tell you that there is a huge issue of childcare deserts in this state, especially as you said, in rural communities. And so with pre licensure coming in to really encourage and incentivize, and help people become become licensed. Because we don't, we don't want for people just to start new businesses, we want them to start quality businesses as well. So as we're trying to, we're trying to increase access, it's not just access, it's quality access, as well. And I think too, when you when we speak of quality, when we were talking about running a facility or family childcare, whatever group home whatever it is, quality doesn't just look like one thing in particular, quality isn't just the care that you're giving to the children. That's a huge part of it. But quality as a well rounded kind of category is the natural environment of your childcare facility, the way that your rooms are set up, the way that you function as a business owner, the way that you instill culture, and how you treat your staff that are under you. And also the kind of instructions and curriculum that you're giving to the kids and more. So it's like, when we think about quality, licensed childcare facilities, this is why it's so important to become licensed. Because we once you become licensed, you have access to all of these resources within the department of human services that provide that 360 web of support.


Cynthia Roberts  07:24

I think a lot of people when they look at childcare when I start considering a childcare agency, they're like, I love children. And I love education. And and that's great. We want them to love the children. We want them to love educating children. But that's not all there is to it. I was a teacher for 12 years before I started in child care licensing. And I actually had one summer where a friend of mine asked me to come work at her childcare agency. And I was at when I was teaching at Tuck secondary education. So sixth grade, they 12th grade, and not bragging, but I was like Teacher of the Year I knew how to do stuff. I understood it. I understood classroom management and classroom discipline and lesson planning and all this type stuff. And when I went into a room with four year olds to six year olds, I walked in with my lesson plans, and it just blew up in my face because I didn't have an understanding. I love kids and I loved education. And I had been an educator, but it's different. It's different when you're working with four to six year olds, and I, you know, on my lesson plans, I had us working on a coloring page for five minutes and up to 2.5 seconds. You know, they're like, What do we do now? Right. And it's really just helping helping these educators. And these directors and these new agencies understand, like you were saying, the importance of that well roundedness? Sure, and understanding what the children need and understanding how to set up a classroom so that there's not blind spots when you're not being able to say kids. And we do have, we do have all of those partners and licensing. And we when we start the process, we introduce those people, we introduce these partnerships and these programs that are out there. We've also been partnering with the department of economic and community development when trying to find resources and find locations and, again, identify these places that really need this care.


Wesley Mayes  09:31

so true. Absolutely. And I think this can be a kind of a daunting task when you when you come up to it. Especially whenever you know what we're talking about is having this web of support. It's very easy to consider ourselves experts on things, but you just don't know what you don't know. Right. So right so to have that there to have that. You know, someone holding your hand through the process. I mean, that's just that's invaluable. What is that? What does that process look like? And, and like, how do you get started with that?


Cynthia Roberts  10:04

What we do, we have six program specialists across the state of Tennessee, and we start the process, we do an orientation, we have folks attend an orientation, and that's kind of just our reality check. Like, this is what it means to be licensed, this is what it looks like, it's highly regulated, you're gonna have to work with state fire, you're gonna have to work with local environmental, you're gonna have to work with the zoning, you know, Zoning Commission and different things, we want them to really understand that it's not, it's not Miss Malone, it's not, I'm just gonna put kids in my house and turn on the TV and hope they live. It's not that at all. It's a process, and it's regulated. And there's rules, and that they're responsible for, you know, the lives of children, they're responsible for their staff and how their staff performs. So we really just have that. And we start with an orientation, excuse me to help them understand that it's not an overnight process, it's not always an easy process. So we start there with orientation. From orientation, we have a new program, which is it's wonderful, I'm so excited about it. And we work with childcare, resource and referral. And just from faith, back from other providers and other directors, we've come up with a Small Business Academy, because one of the other things that some folks, they may love kids, they may love families, they may be really good at this aspect of the business, but they may not have knowledge of finances, and budgeting and marketing, and those type things. So we take them from orientation, and we put them into small business academy. And Small Business Academy focuses on budgeting, you know, you want to have a successful business, we want you to have a successful business, we want it to last for years and years and years. They focus on marketing, how to appeal to the public how to recruit those families, they focus on hiring and retaining staff, which is huge right now just finding qualified educators. So we moved them into that small business academy, and we go over those, it's very interactive training. And then when they complete Small Business Academy, if they have a location, okay, which which is you have to have a location to continue forward, we have to start requesting all these approvals. And if they have a location that come back to pre licensure, they're assigned a pre licensure specialist, and we literally just take their hand at that point. And we say, let me walk you through the rest of this process this way, need these three things. Next, let me tell you where to go and get these three things, let me tell you how to fill out these three forms. Okay, after that, this is what we're going to do. And this is what we need you to do. So we really take their hand and we walk them through the rest of the process. The first thing we try to get them to we have a very exciting establishment grant currently. And we can talk about that in a minute. But we try to get them to the point of being eligible for that grants. And then after we get them eligible, we try to get them to the point of Weisinger. So it is it's a process but there's somebody that you're answering questions and walking you through it and guiding you and helping you make those contacts. So it's, and that's just the program specialists, we're also bringing in other outside support and help and all this type stuff.


Wesley Mayes  13:35

I mean, hearing you talk about, it just kind of makes me a little stressed. Like it's it's a big process and knowing that you have one, you've got the roadmap there to say, okay, I can see what's coming up. Right? I know what's going to be here. And then I have people cheering me on, and I've got people, you know, helping me and telling me what the next steps are. I mean, I know that that's got to take off a huge load of stress for people who are going through this process. And it allows them to get what they need done while maintaining I think the passion that brought them into it in the first place.


Alex Farrell  14:06

Yeah, and not to mention Great move by the Department of Human Services to recognize how difficult this process is because I would imagine prior to pre licensure unit, that amount of support along that process was probably relatively limited. And correct me if I'm wrong there, but so now that the pre licensure unit DHS recognized Okay, prospective providers need our help with this. Okay, let's, let's move some resources around let's dump some resources into that kind of support.


Cynthia Roberts  14:38

We're really trying to be intentional, we're, we're restructuring this whole unit. I know in the past, we would basically send them a packets of information for them to fill out and then they would get back with this and a lot of times providers needed help filling that out and understanding that so when we form PRI last year, I always think of Maya Angelou and her quote, you know, do what you do the best you can until you know better and when you know better than you do better. So I feel like we're in that point where we're doing better. And I'm sure we'll come across things like We even came across a few barriers on our arm that we've tried to fix as we started creating this pre licensure unit. But yeah, it's just breaking it down there. So it's, it's a lot. But like you said, when you chunk it, it's doable. It's doable. When you have that supportive, you have those people coming in when needed, and not just bombarding you. We're trying, like I said, to be intentional. So once we get through small business, and we're back with our program specialist, we're trying to bring in we have with Stacey RNR, Childcare Resource and Referral, we have quality coaches, who work one on one with each of these agencies. So we think that's a good time to bring that quality coach back in. Yeah, and that quality coach, and that progress specialists work with that director. And then as we get to, you know, a few steps down the road, if, if it's time, if they're going to care for infants and toddlers, we have an infant and toddler coach or an infant toddler specialists that we bring in, and they start working with that department. So we've really been partnering with childcare resource and referral and our other partners to make this very intentional. And we actually have Candace Hansen, who works, who's over the Small Business Academy used to be a director, right? And she, I get to go because she's like, Cynthia, I had so many emails from all these different people, and that just show up at my door, and I didn't know who they were, you know, and they were there to help me, but I didn't know what everybody did and what everybody's purpose was, and I didn't have time to read all these emails. So we're really trying to, we went up, we want to provide that support. But we want it to make sense, and we want it to happen at the right time. And we don't want it to be overwhelming.


Alex Farrell  17:01

So we've been kind of talking about this process that is, you know, many steps and can be a lengthy process, like we've talked about is more than adequate support to help directors and prospective providers kind of navigate through this process. But what are some of those barriers that you have seen along this process that, that business owners and directors communicate to you like, hey, this was a this was a sticking point for me along this process?


Cynthia Roberts  17:30

Right? Well, we're finding a lot of folks just the cost, just the cost of getting started in a business, and especially childcare, a lot of people you know, have to find locations and y'all know rent right now is just unreal, if you can even find a place, but the cost of you know, supplying a classroom, just the rugs, and the Koreans and the equipment, and supplies and materials and all these things. So we do you have we're working on identifying these barriers and helping remove those barriers. So we did set up an establishment grant. And this is through. This is for specifically for new agencies that are opening. And this establishment grant, the agencies can receive $1,000 per child, up to 100. Children. Wow. So it's possible for a new agency to receive up to $100,000. Wow, to help with cost and supplies and equipment. We've also been working with the Department of Economic Community Development, and they receive some money and a lot of these counties are putting that toward childcare. So their money can be used a little bit differently than our money. So we're partnering with neon, I know there are some agencies and upper way up in East Tennessee, who are helping childcare providers purchase buildings, wow, some of their funds. So they delegate where that money goes. But again, that's another resource that we have that we can partner these these new providers with.


Wesley Mayes  19:16

I really do think this just illustrates the value of this process so much, though, because when you think about an establishment grant, that could potentially be worth up to $100,000. If you didn't know, if you didn't go through this, this process. If you didn't get started with the pre licensure team, you just wouldn't know and you'd be potentially missing out on $100,000. I mean, absolutely. You can't get much better than that. But


Alex Farrell  19:39

yeah, it's true. What a support. Definitely. So what were what were some of the other barriers that that you've heard from workers.


Cynthia Roberts  19:47

We're finding right now that just finding a building, finding the location to have a childcare operation, and we're working again. We kind of we realize is that if you don't have a location, of course, you don't have a location, you can't get that location approved and move forward with that grant process and move forward and Weisinger. So we realized a lot of folks are completing this small business academy, but they don't have a location. And it's kind of, they just, they just kind of see it until they find that location. So what we've decided to do is we're partnering with small business with Candace and her group. And we're splitting those folks up. So we're going to take the people that have a location who are ready to go and move them with us. And then we're going to take the folks that are struggling, and we're going to help them find a location, we're going to start partnering with local realtors, we're going to put them on email list. So when when locations become available, they're made aware, we're going to provide the local realtors with some of the specifics that you have to have and childcare building. So instead of just letting them sit there, until they find something, or something falls in their lap from the heavens, which is pretty much how it works these days, we're going to start working with them, and helping them find those locations and helping them find good safe locations. And then when they find those locations, again, we're going to shift back to pre lozenger, we're going to take off and run them to that eligibility and for that licensure process. So I'm excited about that. That's something we just, we had a meeting yesterday, yeah, we had a meeting yesterday about how we're going to start working that and, and what we need, and you know, just start putting those materials and those resources together. So we can continue to support, we don't want to just go Well, too bad, you don't have a location. Because we don't want to we want people if they're interested, we want to be encouraging and we want to be helpful. And we want to do the best we can to partner them again, maybe with community groups, or somebody that can help them find a suitable location. So those had been the really two big things. Just the cost. And I feel like we've tackled that we've made that resource available. And just the lack of access real estate right now is the devil, it's hard to find anything and that's affordable. And so just try to look at that and figure that out and and provide as much help and support as we can with that as well.


Alex Farrell  22:19

Yeah, and I think it really kind of accentuates why we wanted to have you on in the first place to talk about this process to kind of demystify for lack of a better word, this process because if we don't do this, then if you're on the outside looking in at this process, and you're interested, you're gonna look at this list of things that you have to do. And you might even get resentful, you know, of how difficult the process is. But so what we want to do is say, hey, no, we understand all of these, these steps are there for a reason. And it all comes back to the quality and safety of the children, which I think we can all get behind. Now we understand that that process is lengthy and it is can be difficult at times, and there are barriers, but we have at like a ton of supports to help you along this process. So we don't want this conversation by any means to be like all doom and gloom, like it's impossible challenge and you can't get past it. It's not the case at all. So I kind of wanted to transition a bit more if we can to what are the benefits of becoming licensed, because it isn't, it isn't just regulation and difficulty and paperwork that you do when you're licensed. You know, there's there are ton of like really great benefits to becoming licensed, that you wouldn't have access to otherwise,


Cynthia Roberts  23:35

we're working on a new system, a modernization system, that's really going to help those providers, you know, not have just stacks and stacks and stacks of paperwork they have to do we're moving it on to the computer. We're transferring things from year to year. So we're really focused on systems modern systems modernization currently, um, to help those providers have more time to focus on their staff and their, you know, the operations of the building and getting to go in those classrooms and love on this baby. So we're, we're looking at that. I think, again, the establishment grant just coming up with the funds to provide these materials. I think that takes away some of the stress on the directors. And then again, just just that support, like there's so many people like the quality coach, the quality coach will come in and help you set up your classrooms. We have the infant toddler specialists, we have helped them safety coaches, we have inclusion coaches, we have just all these resources. Again, I think in the past it was overwhelming, because there were so many people that were so eager and willing to help but you're just like, I don't know what you're doing here. I don't know who you are. So again, that's why we're trying to be intentional and bring these people in at those right times. And we also have At the community, community foundation, we have a whole website that's full of forms and documents. So these directors are not having to create a parent handbook from scratch, we've got templates, we've got forms that can, you know, rework for their business, their specifics for their business. So we're really trying to, to talk to them and say, What do you need from us? What are you struggle with? What are some of the things, you know, that you just dread doing? How can we help you do those things without just pestering them? You know, we want to make that support, but not be that additional burden?


Wesley Mayes  25:41

Yeah, yeah, no, we started this conversation talking about how a lot of people have great intentions, or they've got a passion for this work. And what we're doing with all of these resources is making it easier for you to focus on that passion, Zach, right, come in and say, and say, you know, this is a whole lot of things that you haven't thought about. So let's help you get through this as quick as you can, let's, let's expedite that paperwork and make it all online. Let's track our training with 10, pow, you know, let's go to childcare, Tennessee, for local resources are all of these different partner things. And then you can focus on like you were saying, the passion that you have for the kids,


Alex Farrell  26:20

right? Yeah. And it's there's additional benefits to on top of the resources and supports, we understand that you are trying to run a business. And so your bottom line is important, the amount of money that you're bringing in to support yourself and your family as you do this. If those numbers don't start to add up, it's hard to, it's hard to, you know, focus your energy on providing quality care. So in addition to all the resources that you talked about, and the supports that you invest, we're talking about, there's also all additional grants available that you do have to be licensed in order to access for instance, childcare wages, Tennessee, my program that I work for, up to $7,800, that is just deposited into your bank account for you to do whatever you want with as long as you have the education to meet the eligibility requirements. Well, in order to one of the one of the main eligibility requirements is you do have to work in a DHS licensed childcare facility to have access to that. And that's just one example. There's, you know, childcare, Tennessee, have the enhancement grants, there are all sorts of different grants that add up to 1000s and 1000s of dollars that you have access to as a business, as a business owner and as a personal, individual person, right, in some cases with my program. So it's not, you know, it's there is absolutely a trade off. And we don't want that trade off to just be resources. Yeah, the resource sources are important, but in the end, you need to be able to put food on the table for your family. Yeah, so there's the financial benefit of doing it as well, that can be, you know, in some cases, 10s 10s of 1000s of dollars that you have access to, which I think is really important.


Cynthia Roberts  28:02

Yeah, we do just speak, um, I do have a support and enhancement grants for licensed agencies. And that's up to $4,000. We also have, it's new this year, an expansion grant. So if you have an agency, and let's say we have three or four rooms that you haven't been using, if we want to add some capacity, we've got a grant to help you do that, that, you know that again, the enhanced or the expansion grant, they all start with a while we did. But the expansion grant is $1,000 per child added to your capacity. So we really are trying to put some money there. And you know, we talked to these agencies, and we're like, you know, this is $100,000 that you're not having to spend, where can you put that money, maybe you can pay your teachers a little more. And then you don't have the turnover, you know, you can retain teachers if you can give them a little more money. So it's really and that's where small business comes back and learning where you know how to how to move that money, how to take those grants, and really help your agency and your staff, you know, benefit from those because now we're not having to buy the crayons. So what can we do with the great Yamani? Agency


Alex Farrell  29:20

to take it to the next level? Yeah.


Wesley Mayes  29:22

And even on an individual level, I mean, we're talking about on the agency level, but you know, like with Alex's program that's on the individual level, and then there's tuition support with tecta If you want to go in with you know, for some more professional development, maybe move up those


Alex Farrell  29:40

the levels of supplemental education.


Wesley Mayes  29:43

Yeah, yeah. So there's, there's just all just boo coos of financial and resource support by becoming licensed. Where Where can providers get started? Like how what are the what's the first steps?


Cynthia Roberts  29:58

I went to me the Step that makes sense is get into orientation. And you can do that you can reach out, we have an email address, it's childcare, pre leisinger.dhs@tn.gov, we have somebody who mans that every single day. So you're gonna get a quick response, we're gonna reach out and get you signed up for that orientation. And that orientation is really where, like I said, you get a, it's a lot, somebody said, it's like drinking from a firehose, you get a lot of information, but I think you get enough where you can understand the Next Steps Understand what the process looks like, and really decide is this something I want to do? Yeah, um, so that would be the place to start getting into orientation, let us talk you through that. We provide, you know, we don't just have orientation and disappear, you have our email addresses, you have small business email, you have text to email, you have all these different resources that you can start picking through and deciding Is this what I want to do? Is this for me? And then from there, like I said, we just get you into small business, and we just, once you sign up, we're gonna take and we're gonna run it.


Alex Farrell  31:13

Yeah, yeah, no, we'll and we'll definitely make sure to include that email in the show notes as well. So people can can access that. Really appreciate you coming on to talk about this. It's because I think if you don't, if you don't know, it, can, it can seem just like way too much. But the we kind of wanted to demystify this process, because I think there is a large effort happening to kind of shift that perspective of the Department of Human Services, and their role with being, you know, a regulatory body with within childcare. And I think a lot of people have you historically, have you DHS, as the big guy that comes in and tells me everything that I'm doing wrong. And that's 100%, not the case. And we're really putting a lot of intentional effort with all of our programs that collected effort to say No, first and foremost, we care about you, we care about the kids and the families that you serve. And we want you to have the the foundation to be able to provide the best quality care and reach your personal milestones as well, in the midst of doing all of that within this industry. We talked about professionalizing the industry, we want people to feel comfortable that once they get into this industry, it's not it doesn't plateau for them, that there are these resources that they can grow and develop as much as they want to. And all of these things are adding to that narrative of like, yeah, there's there are certain standards that you have to meet and maintain in order to do this properly, and do it by the book and provide this high quality care. But I think the benefits that we've been talking about far outweigh the work of becoming licensed.


Cynthia Roberts  32:54

And I think the big, I think the big thing is we're becoming proactive, we're not being reactive, we're not waiting for you to mess up. And then we step in and, you know, fix it, we're trying to really give you that foundation and that knowledge and that training upfront. So hopefully we don't have those violations. And we still are, we still do come in and we still monitor these rules. And there are times that we will have to give someone a violation, but then we'll hug them. Kind of like that parental love, you know, we want you to do the best you can be but you know, we messed up a little bit here, let's learn how to fix that. Let's learn from that mistake, we still love you. We still want you to be fabulous, you know, but it's not. We're not coming in to we're not there to judge we're not there. Oh, you're horrible at what you're doing. You know, we really want to find the things that you struggle with and help you grow.


Alex Farrell  33:50

So Cynthia, we really appreciate you coming in and joining us on the on the show to kind of talk about all these things and kind of parse through what from the again, from the outside can feel like a daunting task and simplifying it for people. So we usually like to sign off the show with our guests. First of all, what what do you do for self care? What are things that you do for self care?


Cynthia Roberts  34:15

I think my big thing, and you can ask the folks that work with me, I don't stress, I just to me, I don't stress, I don't add that layer of drama, to everything I do. So I kind of take that off the plate that always helps with self care, because I'm not spending that extra time wasting that extra time stressing. I mean, I think just just cutting off work, like in work at this time. And this becomes me time and spending that time with my family and it's been in that time doing things that I love and that I want to do and that I can you know have that relaxation and that joy. Not that I don't have joy from doing what I do. I love it and talk about it all day. I could just just keep going and keep going I have three rules in my department number one, my number one rule is relax. That's what I tell my group number one, get relaxed. Number two, don't get your feelings hurt. Because a lot of you know, a lot of times people are ready to go. And I don't understand why they have to wait. And I don't understand why they can't be open tomorrow. And they get a little feisty and a little, you know, upset. So number two, you don't get surveillance hard. And number three, if you come with a problem come with a solution. So I think if we just kind of keep things in perspective, that that's the greatest self care that we can do. And just don't spend your life worrying about that and enjoy your time at work and enjoy your time away from work.


Alex Farrell  35:39

Yeah, that's really great. And then last thing as well, do you have a word of encouragement for early childhood professionals out there?


Cynthia Roberts  35:47

I do. This, I know this task sounds daunting, it's a lot. Caring for children is a huge responsibility. And we will get you through it. It's not impossible. It's really not, it's really, it's not a hard process. There's just a lot of steps in the process. And we're going to help you understand those steps. And then when you get open, and when you have those babies, just love on those babies, give them that encouragement in that love. And, again, enjoy yourself, don't get stressed out about, you know, the toy that got broken, you know, love on that kid and give them what they need. And just as an educator, you're gonna have those moments that come back to you that just overwhelm you and just assure you that you're doing what your calling is. So just just stay focused on the real goal. And that is, you know, caring for the these children and keeping them safe and keeping them healthy and, and preparing them for what's coming up next. So just stay focused on the what matters. Yeah.


Alex Farrell  36:52

And I love that keep in keeping the right perspective. Yeah. Cynthia, Robert, thank thank you so much for joining us on the podcast and we hope you have a fantastic week.


Cynthia Roberts  37:00

Thank you, same to you.


Alex Farrell  37:03

Thank you for tuning into the podcast today. This podcast is funded through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and signal centers. Signal centers is a nonprofit in Chattanooga, Tennessee, whose mission is to strengthen children, adults and families through services focusing on disabilities early childhood education and self sufficiency.


Wesley Mayes  37:22

If you'd like to leave a review a comment or have a suggestion for a future episode. Please do so on our Instagram account at lean into you pod. That's one word at lean into you pod. Follow us on Instagram for weekly self care tips clips from our episodes and graphic takeaways from many of the talking points from our conversations. Thanks again for listening to the lean into podcast and we hope you have a fantastic week.