Maya recently sat down with Debbie Strickland. She is the Director of This is My Child (TMC), a childcare and early education center located at the Middle Tyger Community Center (MTCC). TMC is the first childcare center in Upstate South Carolina to be labeled as a Breastfeeding Friendly Center by the South Carolina Program for Infant/Toddler Care (SCPITC). I recently spoke with Debbie about TMC’s commitment to breastfeeding positivity and how they became a Breastfeeding Friendly Center.
Debbie knows that breastfeeding helps the child to have better immunity and less illnesses. TMC has always been a center that promotes breastfeeding, because they know that breastfeeding is a healthier way to go. But it wasn’t until SCPITC reached out to Debbie to become a certified Breastfeeding Friendly Center that TMC put a set policy in place. According to Debbie, the process to become certified is relatively simple.
I asked Debbie what being a Breastfeeding Friendly Center looks like at TMC now that they have become certified and have an official policy in place. TMC has put SCPITC stickers in every classroom window and hung breastfeeding friendly signage up around the center. Each classroom has a small fridge and freezer to store milk, and the center has a private resource room with a large fridge to store milk, crockpots to warm the milk, and a clean place to express milk. Breastfeeding employees are given extra break time to express milk, and parents of children in the program as well as other visitors are welcome to use the space to pump or feed.
Debbie’s hope is to extend breastfeeding policies outside of TMC to MTCC and beyond to other childcare centers in the Upstate. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly center, visit scpitc.org or talk to Debbie at Debbie.Strickland@spart5.net.
- Why does breastfeeding matter to Middle Tyger?
A healthier way to go. It helps the child have better immunity. Breastfed children have less illnesses for the most part according to the research.
- What inspired MTCC to make being breastfeeding positive a priority?
PITC reached out to them. They had two centers in the state that have the BFF designation, the Upstate needed one.
- How does MTCC show that breastfeeding matters? Do you currently have breastfeeding policies in place?
- For Employees:
Childcare staff has it in the employee handbook and they have to sign a document saying they have read and understand their breastfeeding policies. Hoping to put a policy in place to the MTCC center as a whole in the new employee handbook. Have stickers that they put on all their doors. The handbook should be out in August.
4. How do you promote a breastfeeding friendly culture and attitude at MTCC?
Part of staff orientation at the childcare center. Talk about it, never had anyone say they have an issue with it. When staff talks to parents, staff’s job is to make the positive culture known and make the parents feel comfortable and accepted. Has the one-hour training.
Milk storage. Every room has a small fridge and freezer. In resource room have a full-size fridge with a space for the milk. Have crockpots with warm water to thaw the milk out.
- How long has MTCC had these policies in place? What was it like implementing these polices?
No pushback. She decided they were going to do it and the ED encouraged it.
- Have you gotten any feedback from employees or visitors about your breastfeeding friendly efforts?
One employee who has used was very grateful for the policy. This staff person would sometimes pump in the infant room.