For the next few months, we'll speak with providers about what they do, how they got started, and their hopes for early childhood education's future. Emily Washington is an early childhood care professional from Sweet Ems Childcare.
CCC: How did you become an early childhood provider?
Emily: When I had my first child seven years ago, I fell in love with motherhood and was fortunate enough to stay home with my son then. I returned to work when he was one, and it wasn't until I was on maternity leave with my second child in January of 2022 that I decided to take the leap and open my own program. For me, it was life-changing being able to stay home and care for my children and help provide for my family while assisting other working parents in need. I contacted the Lawrence Health Department, took all my required classes, rearranged my home and went for it.
CCC: What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
Emily: Making a living wage while keeping reasonable rates for the community is a challenge with the current regulations.
CCC: What are your favorite things about early childhood care?
Emily: Sharing their excitement about the littlest of things brightens my day. The tiredness I feel at the end of the day is the most accomplished and satisfying tiredness I've felt out of any career.
CCC: If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking at going into childhood care, what would it be?
Emily: To not feel bad taking time off. I give myself ten paid vacation days out of the year in my contract and take them. I'm fortunate to have a very supportive husband and kids that make sure I get time to enjoy hobbies. Take care of yourself, and the hard work that comes out of this career will be so fulfilling.
CCC: You started your own child care business. What was that journey like?
Emily: I was working in Topeka when I found out I was pregnant and immediately started weighing how I could find and afford child care. I started contacting child care centers when 12 weeks pregnant and couldn't find anyone with a waitlist shorter than 18-24 months. When I finally found one with a 9-month opening, it was 30 minutes away on the opposite side of town, and tuition was almost half of my monthly take-home pay. We weren't sure what to do at times, but we realized it was perfect timing to change my career.
CCC: Would you feel comfortable sharing something about yourself - maybe a hobby, a favorite song, or a favorite place or restaurant in Lawrence?
Emily: I love trying many things, but my most beloved hobby is the piano. I write songs as well as play and sing with a couple of friends on the weekends, most recently playing at Lawrence's amazing Farmer's Market.
To learn more about Sweet Em's child care, visit www.sweetemschildcare.com