Tuesday, January 31, 2017
HospiTOTS still going strong after 25 years of providing childcare, early education
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – It’s been just over 25 years since HospiTOTS was started as a benefit to team members at Johnson City Medical Center. The preschool childcare service, located near JCMC, is still going strong and serves primarily Mountain States team members, providing an educational curriculum that prepares kids for kindergarten and beyond.
“Twenty-five years ago that was a pretty innovative concept,” said Laurie Clements, M.Ed., director for HospiTOTS. “Not a lot of employers were doing this kind of thing for their workforce.”
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HospiTOTS cares for children age 6 weeks through 5 years old. There is a 100-child maximum and there’s a waiting list to get in. The service has low staff/child ratios, degreed teachers, well-trained and educated staff, and a planned program and curriculum. It is licensed by the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) and goes a step beyond DHS standards by participating in the state’s Star-Quality Child Care Program – holding a 3-star rating, the highest available.
Linsey Lawson, a Mountain States team member at the CBO, has one son attending HospiTOTS and another who went there prior to starting kindergarten.
“They have a great curriculum, great meal plans, great teachers and a great facility,” Lawson said. “It’s good to know that an organization you love to work for has a great place for you to send your children. The comfort of knowing that your child is being taken care of is such a blessing. And both my children have loved going there.”
HospiTOTS has seven classrooms and the children move from one to the next as they age up. Their curriculum starts by teaching the infants that they’re safe and secure. The teachers at each classroom do monthly lesson plans that tie into the Tennessee Early Learning standards.
“Our kiddos leave here very well-prepared for school,” Clements said. “We get good feedback from both county and city schools about that.
“Really, the first five years for children are the prime learning years. If they’re not getting the proper stimulation and good sensory experience, the brain sort of prunes out those neurons that are not being used. It’s sort of a ‘use it or lose it’ thing.”
Because of the staff’s training, they’re familiar with appropriate development skills and are on the lookout for developmental red flags like speech problems or learning disabilities. The earlier those are recognized, the sooner the child can be helped and the better the outcome.
HospiTOTS is located next to the Mountain States CBO (central business office) on West Market Street near Johnson City Medical Center. Childcare is provided from 6:10 a.m. to 7:40 p.m. Monday through Friday. The tuition rate is based on the child’s age, and Mountain States team members receive a discounted rate compared to non-Mountain States members.
HospiTOTS is also fortunate to have its own cook to prepare meals. Clements said they try to produce nutritious, kid-friendly and cost-effective meals and snacks that follow DHS standards. They provide breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and, if the child stays late enough, supper as well.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve created here,” said Clements, who’s been with the center for 10 of its 25 years. “I think we have an awesome team and program.”
Mountain States also operates The Children’s Center, a similar facility located in Elizabethton near Sycamore Shoals Hospital that accommodates 67 kids.
For more information about HospiTOTS or The Children’s Center, contact Clements at 423-431-6971 or ClementsLJ@msha.com.