After getting her start in the public and private elementary education system, Madeline Smith brings her expertise to the Care Specialist team. In her role, she works with families to provide guidance, support, and customized recommendations for child care and educational resources.
Can you share a little bit about your experience in child care?
I focused my studies at Southern Connecticut State University on early childhood education while interning at an elementary school. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I became a pre-K teacher. I’ve taught pre-K both in a private daycare setting and also in a public school. Having experience with both, as well as understanding special education services, helps me appreciate what our members’ families are going through and the level of support they need.
What do you love most about your job as a Care Specialist?
My job is a gift that keeps on giving. When I work with parents, I know the end result will make a positive impact on their life. It’s rewarding all around. Parents often call because they don’t know where to start when looking for child care, special needs, or education support. They’re often frustrated with their own search results. When I spend time learning about their needs, budget, and “must have” requirements for child care or education support I can step in to take some of the weight off their shoulders.
So, what exactly do you do to help members and their families?
I work with families on everything to do with parenting and child care from birth through college. Through my cases I help families find affordable child care in remote areas, locate special needs resources like educational advocates, research college scholarships, find college coaches, and even help families evaluate their undergraduate college options.
Recently, we’re seeing a lot of parents who are returning to the office, have a change in their work schedule, or whose previous child care option has fallen through. They suddenly need full-time child care and we help them find a new permanent care solution.
What is a typical call with a new family like?
The first time a family calls we usually talk for 10-15 minutes. Most commonly parents are looking for help to find child care. I’ll talk to them about their needs, the roadblocks they’re hitting. I ask questions about their schedules, budget, location, and caregiving preferences. Then, I walk them through the process, including how I’ll research and propose vetted options that fit their needs. In some cases, if the family is calling about their struggles in affording child care, in which case we would refer them through their state child care subsidy program. Every case is unique, even when “looking for child care,” so it’s my job to learn the family’s story and customize support to help them.
Is there a case that stands out to you from your past four years at Care?
I took a call from a mom who was homeless, living in a hotel with three or four children, and she had to go to work that night and didn’t have care. She was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If she didn’t go to work, she’d lose the job. If she didn’t have the job, she couldn’t pay for her hotel or child care. I remember that day clearly. I focused all of my energy on finding her quality child care—quickly. That same day, we found her an option. She brought her kids to a nearby caregiver and made it to work on time. That was one of those “ah-ha” moments where I saw how Care truly changes lives.