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Tuesday, June 10, 1997

Get day care details in cyberspace

By Joe Szadkowski

One of the most amazing things about the World Wide Web is that anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and tenacity can participate. Here's a great example of how one woman's passion for her work translated into a web site that is crucial to today's working parents.

"A Home Away From Home"

Site address:
Creator: Bobbi Florence, a licensed family child-care provider in Southern Wisconsin.
Creator quote: "With this site I wanted to create a resource for family child-care providers which covered nearly every aspect of the business, to reduce the time providers had to spend searching for needed information."

Word to the Web Wise: Finding and turning our youngest children over to day-care providers is a process most parents greet with some stress. Day-care providers and parents will both benefit from this site. Developed by Mrs. Florence as a way to learn web site development, her goal was to create a guideline for others who want to start a home day-care program.

For parents looking for a day-care provider, A Home Away From Home contains a wealth of useful information. The "My Parents Handbook" outlines how Mrs. Florence runs her day-care center. From the handbook, parents will be able to discern information on what they should be looking for in a quality day-care facility. Mrs. Florence's "Office" is filled with guidelines for daily activities from enrollment requirements to toilet training your youngsters.
Creator kudos: A Home Away From Home includes images and data on reported missing children as supplied by

the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Kudos to Mrs. Florence for providing this space to the important goal of getting children back home where they belong.
What's a family to do? Parents and children can contribute to the site's recipe book which, as of right now, only contains a few recipes. Gather the ingredients to your favorite snacks and make them while writing down the ingredients. From the site, e-mail your recipe to Mrs. Florence and see if you are included in the Recipe book. She asks that all contributors send recipes that are simple, child-appealing, and nutritious.
Cyber sitter synopsis: The kids won't find any cyber-tainment here, but parents can find ways to entertain the kids as well as other valuable information.
Family fun factor: 50 (out of 100)
Information grade: B+

The following article appeared in the April issue of 4-C Focus, 4-C's monthly newsletter. 4-C (Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc.) is located in Madison, Wisconsin and provides a number of services to child care providers in 16 Wisconsin counties. They are my Child Care Food Program Sponsor.

4-C Provider Has Own Web Site

It exists in cyberspace but it's just as warm and welcoming as her real family child care home. 4-C provider Bobbi Florence, Monroe, has designed her own web site on the World Wide Web.

"I wanted to learn HTML (the special computer language needed to create a web site) so I checked a book out of the library and nine days later I put the site up," said Bobbi.

It's called "A Home Away From Home," just like her family child care business, and it's set up to look like a home. When you visit the site, you move from "room" to "room." Each room explains different aspects of Bobbi's child care business. For example, in the "kitchen" you can see her menus for the week and an explanation of the Child Care Food Program.

In the "office" you can read about her rates and payment policies; in the "den" the daily schedule of activities is posted; and in the "playroom" there are pictures of the kids playing and funny stories about them.

"I wanted the site to reflect the fact that this is an in-home program," said Bobbi.

In order to personalize it, she included information about her two teenage sons and her cats. She's planning a new page for her site which will be called "Tricks of the Trade" and will have practical suggestions for providers -- "ways to make things go easier."

"I've gotten a great response from other day care providers to my web site," said Bobbi. "It's been visited about 450 times since it went up in mid-February."

Besides advertising her business and connecting with other providers via the internet, Bobbi uses the computer to

make brochures, business cards, and packets for prospective parents which explain her services.

"I taught myself about computers," said Bobbi. "When we first got one, I was afraid to turn it on."

For providers who might be interested in learning more about computers and using them in their businesses, Bobbi recommends taking a class at a local technical college and reading how-to books that can be borrowed from the library. She also suggests subscribing to a computer magazine to learn tips to make the best use of your computer.

If you want to visit "A Home Away From Home" the address is: www.oocities.org/Heartland/Hills/2489. You can sign the guest book and visit all the "rooms" in Bobbi's family child care. You can also link to other web sites, including 4-C's. Bobbi's e-mail address is: bobbi@earth.inwave.com.


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June 9 - 15, 1997

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