univnews@rit.edu (Matt Gregory)
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 8:09am

Mary Beth Pratt helped to found Child Care Council Inc. while she was attending RIT in the early 1970s. She hardly imagined that it would grow into a major not-for-profit child care resource and referral corporation with more than 50 employees and offices in three counties. She also couldn't have guessed that 40 years later, the organization would be led by another RIT alumna, Barbara-Ann Mattle.

The Western New York Child Care Council, as it was called then, was formed when Pratt '81 (social work) identified what she says was a real need for monitoring the new phenomenon of child care away from the child's home and for child care referral services to this type of care in Rochester. She left her job as director in 1975, but not without setting Child Care Council on the path to success. Over the decades that followed, it enjoyed rapid expansion, adding numerous resources and new educational programs for child care providers, including food and nutrition education, child abuse prevention, Child Development Associates, First Aid/CPR, how to start a family child care business or a child care center, plus a multitude of other topics.

Mattle '80 (management) was hired as director of Child Care Council in 1983. She was given the task of figuring out how to keep the fledgling not-for-profit corporation in business. She used her customer service training and business acumen gained from her RIT education to model Child Care Council after a corporate structure. She says that she bases her management philosophy on three principles: treating all customers equally, figuring out how to meet customer expectations, and making sure to always stay family oriented.

"While I was studying at RIT, I wanted to become the finance director for the Girl Scouts," says Mattle, who is now the CEO of Child Care Council Inc. "However, at RIT I was shown new ways look at the business world, to think innovatively, and to expand my horizons beyond my initial goal."

Mattle isn't the only RIT graduate who works at Child Care Council. Joining her on the management team are Kristin Perrone '90, '91 (painting and illustration, art education), who serves as the director of education and health, and Brian Waldmiller '91 (finance), who serves as the finance director.

"You wouldn't think of RIT as a place that someone in this field would have attended," says Perrone, whose duties include coordinating training and the course calendar, as well as managing the website and social media. "At RIT, I learned how to accept change and new technology, and how to solve problems, and that is important in any field."

Perrone and Waldmiller agree that their career paths are not what one might expect from a technical university, but they both feel that RIT has prepared them to take on any challenge.

"I never imagined that I would be working for a not-for-profit, but in retrospect it has been much more rewarding," says Waldmiller, who started his career in banking. "It's not what I envisioned when I graduated, but RIT has enabled me to contribute in a practical way, not just a theoretical one."

Programs at Child Care Council are funded through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, New York State Department of Health, Early Care & Learning Council, local foundation grants and fees for service programs. It also partners with several organizations, including the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, which is headquartered at RIT.

At its core, its mission is still to provide information, education, support and resources to child care providers, parents and the community. Child Care Council has become an integral part of the child care industry in New York state through Mattle's appointment, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to his Child Care Advisory Committee and nationally through appointments to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Healthy Child Initiative and the National Organization of Family Child Care Accreditation Commission.

"I am thrilled to see what has come from the little seed that we planted in the '70s," says Pratt.

For more information, go to childcarecouncil.com.

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