When Michelle DeVoe opened her family childcare business in Black Earth, Wisconsin, she never imagined the challenges she would face.
She started her family childcare program because she wanted to provide a quality early learning environment for kids. Dedicated to quality, DeVoe decided to go back to school to make sure she had a handle on early childhood education best practices.
"I knew that I was providing a loving, home-like daycare, but I found myself frequently questioned about my capabilities," DeVoe said. "I knew that I wanted to create a continually engaging daycare space and curriculum, and I wanted to stay current with the learning standards for young children. So, I decided that I would go back to college and earn my Child Care Administrator Credential from UW-Platteville."
Going back to college while working full time, parenting and running a childcare business is not easy.
DeVoe would face additional challenges as well. While all business owners do their best to prepare for the unpredictable, there will always be events out of their control. For DeVoe, that became clear in August of 2018. A torrential downpour dropped 11 inches of rain in just three hours.
"Our local river flooded, bringing damage of which I have never seen before," she described. "Water flooded from the main road behind us and into our backyard. It crept into the creases and cracks of the foundation and flooded our childcare rooms. We lost everything from toys to doors. We had to rip the walls out four feet up to avoid any mold."
DeVoe calls it the biggest challenge of her career. While she began the long process of rebuilding the childcare rooms from scratch, there were still families needing her services. She was able to continue to provide childcare in the upper levels of her house. "I am thankful that my childcare families stuck by me and supported me through this time," she said.
It was a long and arduous process, but DeVoe was able to rebuild her childcare rooms even better than they were before. She said she utilized the skills and knowledge from her UW-Platteville coursework to create a beautiful and engaging learning environment for young children.
"I brought the outside in and used nature as my inspiration. I created small functional spaces within the larger rooms to create learning provocations," DeVoe said. "I carefully chose toys to encourage the children's creativity and active involvement while learning multiple skill sets. I created an organization system using toy bins with pictures underneath to help the children associate where items belong and promote their self-guided constructive play and organization skills. Using structure and a well-designed program, I am encouraging the children's growth, creativity, and accomplishment. I am proud to display my professionalism and use what I have learned to create a quality early learning program."
Despite challenges such as COVID-19 and a major flood, DeVoe worked hard and successfully completed her Administrator Credential this year. While she could not have ever imagined all the obstacles she would face on her academic journey, she is thrilled to continue her education and continue to serve her community's childcare needs.
DeVoe said the support of the families in Black Earth helped her realize she possessed tremendous determination and resilience. "Through all of these challenges, I discovered that I am more capable than I gave myself credit for, and now look forward to the future of my family daycare program."