A Place for Ericka – and her Children To Grow!
Despite your best efforts, it can sometimes feel like you are faced with rejection at every turn. Ericka was certainly at that point. Employed in various entry-level food service positions, money was always tight and promotions never came her way. After giving birth to her first son, she realized she could not afford childcare on her salary. She was forced to rely on a patchwork of relationships to ensure care, but this put a strain on family and friends, who also worked or were struggling to make ends meet.
After the birth of her second child, she found a part-time job at a childcare center, where she would qualify for co-pay assistance. By then, she was also attending college, with hopes of becoming a licensed pharmacy technician. She graduated in 2010, but her hopes of beginning a better career stalled. Due to an ultra-competitive job market and lagging economy she couldn’t land a single job interview after several months of job searching. Desperate to support her young family, she dedicated herself to what she had known best – childcare. In the process of learning more about early childhood education and having a third child, she made a decision that would not only benefit her career, but her growing family as well.
The same year, she began looking for a new childcare center for her children, convinced there was a better environment for them to learn and develop. She made an appointment to visit Guardian Angel Settlement Association’s Childhood Center. “I was impressed. It felt warm.” In fact, Ericka’s visit prompted her to ask a staff person “Do you treat every family like this or am I special?” she recounted with a chuckle. Gloria Sewell, the Director of the Childhood Center remembers that visit. “I answered yes to both questions!” And so began a new relationship between Ericka, her family and Guardian Angel.
Ericka’s children enjoyed their experience so much that it was not long before she asked Gloria what she needed to do become a classroom teacher at the Childhood Center. She learned that Guardian Angel places a high premium on the Child Development Associate (CDA), a credential that ensures early childhood education professionals know the essentials for helping children develop mentally, socially, physically and intellectually. Ericka’s response to Gloria’s reply was direct and steady, “I’m going to earn that credential and then I want to work here.”
It took Ericka three years, but true to her word and always thinking about her financial stability and children’s future, she did it. She earned her CDA in April 2013 after clocking 480 hours of direct work with children and 120 formal hours of education, passing an advisor assessment and written exam. Later in the year, when Gloria told Ericka that a position had opened up at Guardian Angel, she wasted no time applying, and she got more than the interview she wanted – she got a new, higher paying job as a fulltime Lead Teacher at Guardian Angel’s Childhood Center, thanks to her own dedication and hard work.
“I’m finally at a place that I connect with, that shares the same values I have for myself and my children,” Ericka shares, “and I’m proud to say all my children will graduate from Guardian Angel’s early childhood education program.” In fact, Ericka already has her sights on another childcare credential and hopes to complete that program the same year her youngest will finish preschool at Guardian Angel, in 2018. Her children happy and learning, and in a career with upward mobility, Ericka has turned rejection into hope.
Ericka joins a select group of parents who have come to Guardian Angel Settlement Association’s Childhood Center over the years looking for quality, affordable childcare and eventually joined the teaching staff after discovering a passion for early childhood education an appreciation for the Agency’s approach to service.