The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

April 19, 2007

Childcare conference to benefit parents, caregivers


PALESTINE — Raising children in today’s society can be challenging for parents as well as anyone charged with their care.

To help educate those who care for young children, Anderson County Champions for Children, the Region VII Education Service Center (ESC) and Trinity Valley Community College have united to host the first-ever Parent/Caregiver Conference Saturday at TVCC-Palestine.

“We have discovered that there is a big need in this community to provide required education hours for local child care workers,” Champions for Children director Joan Strominger said Monday. “One of the reasons we decided to host this event was to meet that need.”

The conference, taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in TVCC-Palestine’s main building, includes a main session with keynote speaker Mary Margaret Wilson as well as several breakout sessions and a time for caregivers and parents to make connections.

Wilson, an early childhood professor at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Palestine campus, has over 30 years experience in the early childhood education field and is the Early Childhood Coordinator for 17 East Texas counties.

Her keynote address will cover the topic of Conscious Discipline®, and how parents and teachers can use the program to provide the social stimulation that will prime the child’s brain for academics.

During the lunch hour, Region VII ESC Head Start Family Advocate Robin Snoek will do a presentation on professional story telling.

“I will be doing a breakout session entitled ‘What to do When Your Child Gets Sick,’” Wilson said Tuesday. “That program, funded by a grant from NuCor Steel and the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, empowers parents to help take care of their children through prevention and intervention.”

Other breakout speakers and topics include: Brain Gym®, presented by Region VII ESC Head Start Disability Coordinator; Conscious Discipline® — Ten Tools for Discipline, presented by Region VII ESC Head Start Specialist Susan Schneider; Infant Brain Development, presented by Palestine YMCA Early Childhood Consultant Sharon C. Davis; Child Nutrition, presented by Penny Dornbush of Crown Home Healthcare; How to Start a Licensed Home-Based Childcare Center, presented by Shelly Judd with Smith County Champions for Children; and SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome, a mandatory course for licensed childcare workers presented by Texas Department of Family Services licensing and human services specialist Kay Baker.

“There also will be booths with information available to provide attendees with resources they need,” Wilson said. “ECI, Anderson County WIC, ‘The Bookman’ Charlie Snoek,” and the Palestine Public Library are just a few groups being represented.”

In emphasizing the importance of Saturday’s event, Wilson said that the quality of care and opportunities for young children was one of the hot topics of the current legislative session.

“I want better for today’s kids and families,” she said. “By educating parents, caregivers and people in the community about childcare for young children, things can be better for them.”

Over 100 people are expected to participate in Saturday’s conference, but space is not limited for the event. Those interested in attending may sign up by calling Champions for Children at 903-723-5567 or may register at the door from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Cost for the conference is $35 and includes lunch.

For more information on Anderson County Champions for Children, visit


Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at