Several years ago, Lerner was working in the insurance industry and feeling unfulfilled. She decided to make a career change by opening a child care center in her home – a venture that would allow her to spend more time with her teenage daughter.
Lerner turned the downstairs of the south Phoenix home she shares with her husband and daughter into the Lerner’s Place Daycare. But she quickly discovered that running a child care center was more challenging than she’d ever anticipated. She knew she needed some extra guidance, and so turned to Quality First, a program operated by Southwest Human Development.
As a participant in Quality First, Lerner’s center received a full assessment followed by personalized support from a coach whose role is to help child care centers improve the quality of care they provide.
She learned new ways to set up and furnish her in-home center so that it offered a better learning environment for the children. She also received guidance about creating daily routines and implementing a curriculum. Regular visits with a nurse helped Lerner improve everything from nutrition for the children to better ways of sanitizing her center at the end of each day.
Today, Lerner’s center is thriving so much that she has hired a part-time employee. Lerner has a bachelor’s degree in business management and is now working toward an associate degree in early childhood development. It's a goal she wholly attributes to her experience with Southwest Human Development.
Quality First is a program of First Things First (azftf.gov), which works to ensure that our youngest children have access to quality early childhood experiences so they start school healthy and ready to learn.
Photos by Rick Gayle