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THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Jennifer Smith of Mommy Relief

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People,Brian Hughes

Smith is vice president of operations and human resources at Mommy Relief, a child care provider in the Washington region that recently started an effort to improve literacy for at-risk youth.

Why the interest in child care?

Mommy Relief was started by three moms and a dad, all from the Washington area, who recognized that one of the hardest times in their lives was during the sleep-deprived times of early parenthood.

What advice would you give to first-time parents looking for help?

They need to feel comfortable with the agency that they are working with and the caregiver. They're going through a busy time in their lives and need as little stress as possible.

Why the new focus on literacy?

We have a new partnership with the Reading Connection, which promotes literacy to at-risk youth. It's so important in terms of development. Even in wealthy areas like Arlington and Fairfax, there are several Title I schools and even Section 8 housing -- a lot of people who might be first-generation Americans who use English as a second language.

What is the most common problem for new parents?

In a lot of instances, they just need sleep. We try to encourage them that they're going to actually get some sleep, eventually. I've gotten calls from dads at wits' end because their wife is going through a hard time -- but it's really cool to see the progress they make.

Did your own parenting experiences shape this career path?

Both of my kids had colic. I was on bed rest. We're able to share our experiences with clients. It's definitely part of why I do this.

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