Staff Writer

In years past, the annual Child Care Providers' Conference at Tarleton State University has had turnouts of 200 or more, this year officials are unsure why pre-registration was less than a fourth of the usual numbers. They have extended deadline to Wednesday for those interested in registering for the five CEU in-service hours.

The Texas Cooperative Extension and Tarleton State University (TSU) are having their annual child care providers' conference on Saturday, Sept. 8, in the humanities building on the TSU campus. The conference is entitled "Survivor: Childcare Island." Childcare workers and administrators from Stephenville, Granbury, Comanche, Brownwood, and other local communities attending the conference will gain five in-service hours or five CEUs. Cost for registration is $20 per person for in-service hours and $30 per person. After Wednesday, the cost goes up $10 for late registrants.

The Extension Agency and TSU have been working with local communities' childcare providers to bring them this conference for several years and have adapted it to be as convenient as possible for interested persons. Beginning at 8 a.m. the conference lasts until 1 p.m., giving each person in attendance five hours or CEUs, and leaving Saturday afternoons open.

The conference will feature workshops, or "tracks," taught by professors from TSU, specialists, supervisors from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and teachers from local schools. They will provide tracks on everything from stress and anger management and infants and toddlers to caring through crisis and getting ready for kindergarten. The conference ends with keynote speaker, Dr. Martha Couch, who is the associate director for 4-H and Youth Development for the Extension.

In order to work in licensed childcare, it is necessary to maintain Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or in-service hours to remain abreast of new information and continuing advancement in childcare services. Half of the hours or CEUs needed can be taken on-line, but the other half must be done in person.

Outside of this conference, the closest towns that offer hours, other than these in Stephenville, are Weatherford, Ft. Worth/Dallas, and Waco.

Parents of children in care can go on-line and research childcare providers in the state, licensed administrators and providers, and do background checks on providers at the DFPS' web site. Providers can go to the same web site to find out what they need to do, how many hours or CEUs they and their staff need, even register as a licensed childcare provider.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for local people working in childcare to get their hours or CEUs," said Donna White, county extension agent, "and we really hope everyone knows about it and is taking advantage of all the great stuff we have to offer."

Providers and caregivers wanting to attend this conference who have not received their applications can register at the Extension Office in the Courthouse Annex, located at 112 West College Street, room 109.

Childcare providers can mail their applications and checks to Nikole Bradshaw at TSU, Childcare Conference, Box T-0380, Stephenville, TX 76401.