Celebrating early childhood educators during Women’s History Month: “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

By Michelle Peng, All Our Kin intern

March is Women’s History Month, dedicated to the phenomenal women who have broken barriers and created opportunities for those who have followed. At All Our Kin, we have been reflecting on women’s narratives of excellence, solidarity, and strength–narratives that often remain untold. One such narrative is the long history of child care advocacy in the United States–a history that has always been driven by and centered around women. We honor the legacies of child care advocates, and look to their leadership in shaping our work to elevate family child care today.

undervalued-227x295The work of nurturing and educating our youngest children has historically been considered “women’s work,” taken on by mothers who cared for their own children without compensation, and enslaved or employed women caring for other people’s children. Unsurprisingly, child care work often fell to women of color. Even today, the demographics of the child care workforce continue to reflect patterns of power and privilege. Ninety-four percent of child care workers are female, and nearly half are women of color. As a result of the traditional devaluing of women’s work, particularly the work of women of color, the profession of early childhood education is often overlooked in both policy and practice. The average wage for child care workers is $9.62 per hour, despite what we know about the critical importance of early care and education to the vitality of children, families, and communities.

And yet, as long as these trends have existed, there have been women–child care providers, parents, advocates–who have resisted. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, women demanded support for the hard work of raising children. Progressive Era reformers like Jane Addams and Julia Anthrop fought for Mother’s Pensions that supported widowed mothers raising children. Decades later, poor, black women like Ruby Duncan pushed for programs that supported women and children nationwide in what became the Welfare Mothers’ Movement. Beyond these examples, there have been countless leaders who have fought for families and children, whether during the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Women’s Rights Movement and the Welfare Mothers Movement of the 1960s, or the advocacy in the wake of welfare reform in the 90s, which led to the founding of All Our Kin. The actions of these activists brought national attention to the work of child care and often resulted in policies that better supported mothers and children.

29513120_1686583771364049_7481515075637272868_n (1)In 2018, women continue to make history in the field of early childhood. Just last week, Congress passed the largest increase to child care funding in history, a bipartisan deal that included an additional $2.37 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $610 million for Head Start (including a $115 million increase for Early Head Start). The credit for these unprecedented investments in child care goes to the early childhood professionals, mothers, and advocates across the country who have been relentless in pursuit of the supports that our educators, children, and families need and deserve.

Even as we celebrate these victories, we know that there is still work to be done. At All Our Kin, we will continue to partner with the family child care providers in our network, and the families they serve, to keep the momentum going and secure big wins for our youngest children and the educators who care for and love them. And while we look towards the future, we will continue to honor the advocates, the women, who have brought us to this point. During Women’s History Month, and every day, we know that our work would not be possible without the narratives they shared, the changes they catalyzed, and the women they empowered.

For more information about the history of child care work in the United States, check out the National Women’s Law Center report: Undervalued: A Brief History of Women’s Care Work and Child Care Policy in the United States

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What’s a Revolution without Dancing? Coming Together to Build a Better World for Our Children.

Social justice is at the heart of All Our Kin’s work; we believe that we change the future by changing what we teach the next generation. And at a time when racism, violence, and intimidation have a national platform, our work to foster empathy, compassion, and justice in our youngest children, and to inoculate against hate and fear, is more critical than ever. In recognition of this, we have embarked on a new equity initiative with the support of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund: Building a Better World for Our Children. This project brings family child care providers and All Our Kin staff together to dream the reality we want for our children, our communities, and ourselves, and then co-create strategies to carry out this vision. Because we know that if we want change for our children, then the change must start with us.

001That is why the first phase of the Building a Better World project focused on All Our Kin staff. During a two-day, deep-dive retreat, staff learned about the history of racism and its impact today, analyzed who we are as an organization and who we want to be, and reflected on our own individual biases and stories, all with the goal of better supporting each other and the providers, children, and families we serve. As a next step, we engaged forty family child care providers in anti-bias workshops with an emphasis on changing practice—embedding equity into every aspect of child care programs from interactions to curriculum. And finally, we created five short films to highlight the important work happening in family child care and elevate the diverse voices of our provider community.

In these short films, providers share, in their own words, what their work means to them. We knew that we needed a special way to share these powerful videos with our community, and honor the broader Building a Better World work. On Friday, January 26, we brought providers, staff, and stakeholders together for a celebration at the Bijou Theatre to culminate year one of Building a Better World for Our Children. We shared food and laughter with friends new and old, we danced the night away on the Bijou stage, and above all, we basked in an incredible sense of strength, hope, and community.

 

 

The evening included a short program, during which we premiered the five provider videos, and each featured provider spoke about the experience of being filmed and reflected on the critical importance of their work with children and families. Now, we are excited to share these videos with you:

Maria Carrillo • Pili’s Day Care, New Haven • Maria grew up in Peru

“My personal goal for each child is that they are happy. Preparing material so that they explore, so that they smile all day, so that they discover new things—this is my motivation.”

 


Doris Lopez • Doris Lopez Day Care, Stamford • Doris grew up in Colombia

“Home daycare is so much more than a babysitter. The children are learning just like they were going to school. I give all the best of me, all my love.”

 


Gilda Mecca • Teddy Bear Child Care, Fairfield • Gilda grew up in Stamford

“The person could make things whole, could make the person who was offended whole again by letting that person decide what they need to feel better. That’s what I use for my conflict resolution.”  

 


Emily Mingia-Lewis • Mingalew Family Daycare, Bridgeport • Emily grew up in the Bronx

“It’s a chance to forget what’s going on in the world and focus on the natural life. Discovering new things, even though they’re things I already know, just looking at things through different eyes.”

 


Bernadette Ngoh • Trusted Care, West Haven • Bernadette grew up in Cameroon

“I try to understand what needs to be covered within this age period, and I follow the kids’ lead on what they are prepared to learn.”

 


As is evident in the films, there is so much to celebrate when it comes to the work happening in family child care and the superhero early childhood educators who make it all possible. Still, we know that this is only part of a long journey towards justice for all children, families, and providers. With continued support from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, we are planning for year two of Building a Better World. During this next phase, we will dig even deeper into issues of bias, racism and injustice, reflecting on our practices as an organization, developing new programming for staff and providers, and continuing to elevate the voices of our community through another round of video vignettes. We look forward to sharing this ongoing work with you, and thank our many partners who join us in creating a more just and equitable world for this and the next generation.

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Thank you to our many partners and friends who made year one of Building a Better World possible:

  • Cornelius Lee and Portia Newman from Education Pioneers, for facilitating All Our Kin’s staff retreat
  • Wendy Simmons and Ingrid Canady from CT SERC for facilitating the provider workshops
  • Travis Carbonella, the videographer behind the video vignettes
  • The Bijou Theatre for hosting our celebration
  • Trattoria ‘A Vucchella for catering the event
  • Tom Ficklin for photographing the event
  • William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund for funding the project

 

 

 

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Black History Month: Join Us in Celebrating Black Women Educators!

By Elise Lieberman, All Our Kin intern

During Black History Month, we celebrate the work of our amazing family child care providers, many of them women of color doing one of the most important jobs there is: educating our youngest children. At All Our Kin, we know that these caregivers often don’t get the respect they deserve; we seek to honor the work of these unsung heroes who touch thousands of children and families every day, laying the foundations for a more just and equitable society.

Black women have been and continue to be instrumental in building and shaping our country. Among the diverse contributions made by black women to history, this Black History Month we particularly want to highlight black women educators whose work has transformed the lives of women and children. Join us in celebrating these phenomenal women.  

Ida B. WellsIda_B._Wells

Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist, suffragist, and civil-rights campaigner. Born into slavery in 1862, Wells was not only an influential activist – a leader in the early Civil Rights Movement and an instrumental anti-lynching pioneer whose writings spread across the globe – but a teacher in a black elementary school. Wells – educating audiences worldwide through journalism and activism as well as black children at a local level – was a true model of All Our Kin’s mission: that children, regardless of where they live, their racial or ethnic background, or how much money their parents earn, will begin their lives with all the advantages, tools, and experiences that we, as a society, are capable of giving them.

Shirley-Ann-JacksonShirley Ann Jackson

Born in 1946, Shirley Ann Jackson enrolled in MIT after excelling in science and mathematics in high school. One of only 20 black undergrads at MIT, and the only black student studying theoretical physics, she soon became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT and the second African-American woman to have earned a doctorate in physics in the United States. Jackson’s commitment to education lead to a distinguished and multifaceted career of “firsts” in academia, government, industry, and research. She was named one of the 50 most important women in science in 2002, and would become the first woman and the first African-American to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the first African-American woman to lead a national research university. Along the way, Jackson, like Wells, has pushed for educational equity, leading efforts to increase the numbers of minorities and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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Born in in 1910, Pauli Murray was a scholar, lawyer, and activist. Upon moving to New York to attend Hunter College in 1926, Murray became involved in the civil rights movement. In addition to leading campaigns to end segregation on public transportation, Murray, like Wells and Jackson, fought for educational equity – beginning with herself. Her 1938 campaign to enroll in the all white University of North Carolina rose to national prominence and led to a lifelong friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Murray then enrolled in law school, where she was both the only woman and first in her class. Upon graduation, Murray’s extensive activism and prominent essays and poems lead to appointments to serve on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and John F. Kennedy’s Committee on Civil and Political Rights. Murray also became the first African American to earn a doctorate of jurisprudence at Yale, where a residential college now holds her name. Murray never stopped learning; after a lifetime of activism, she entered General Theological seminary and became the first African American woman Episcopal priest at the age of 67. While most famous for her work in the public sphere, Murray also worked as a literacy teacher for adults who had never learned to read. Murray’s life of activism and education are an example for All Our Kin’s work at the local, state, and national levels.

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RAshleyJaffeAwards15AOK-HiRes20-2605So often, the stories and contributions of black women remain untold and unsung. The life and work of Wells, Jackson, and Murray are three examples among many. At All Our Kin, we want to both recognize the achievements of these incredible women and inspire a new generation of black girls to follow in their footsteps or, like so many before them, to blaze their own path.

That is why this Black History Month, our focus is on not just the past, but the future: how do we ensure that today’s children of color, beginning in their earliest years, have the tools they need to thrive? One way is to ensure that black and brown children see themselves represented in literature, in positive and inspiring ways. We want to share this book list from “A Mighty Girl,” which recommends 50 books about extraordinary black girls and women. The stories of these girls and women – activists, poets, singers, doctors, teachers, painters, chefs, astronauts, mothers – span hundreds of years. All, however, share one thing: black girls and women who followed their own dreams in the face of everything society told them they could not be and do.

And, of course, among these trailblazing women belong our own providers, who are working to change the life chances of our youngest children, creating a more equitable future for the next generation. We celebrate these women during Black History month and every day.

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All Our Kin New York City Is Officially Open For Business!

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Argentina Burbano, left, with her sister

“All Our Kin didn’t change my program. It radically transformed my life.” That was the powerful message that Argentina Burbano, a family child care provider in Stamford, imparted to a group of more than thirty caregivers last Tuesday as they gathered together at Lehman College to welcome All Our Kin to New York City.  Some had served children and families in their communities for over 20 years. Others were just starting their careers, eager to understand what resources might be available to support them as educators and business owners. All were excited to learn more about All Our Kin, and to join a community dedicated to the success of home-based child care providers.

Tuesday’s launch event marked a new phase of All Our Kin’s growth: the expansion of services to New York City, All Our Kin’s first site outside of Connecticut. All Our Kin’s New York team will work with family child care providers in the Fordham/University Heights area, and will serve as a hub for providers throughout the Bronx. The goal is to support a network of 150 caregivers, increasing the supply of quality child care so that all children and families have access to the high-quality early learning opportunities that help them thrive.

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More than thirty caregivers joined All Our Kin for our NYC launch event

All Our Kin’s expansion comes at a critical time given New York City’s early childhood landscape. According to the 2016 report Bringing It All Home: Problems and Possibilities Facing New York City’s Family Child Care, New York City has one of the largest populations of children living below the poverty line, and home-based child care is the most common care arrangement for infants and toddlers receiving subsidized child care. In fact, 69% of New York City children under the age of 3 who receive subsidized child care are in home-based care. The prevalence of family child care in New York City was recently echoed in the New York Times article Don’t Mind the Day Care Downstairs, which paints a vivid picture of home-based child care programs as community assets, nurturing and strengthening children and families.

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Building a strong community of quality family child care programs

For the providers at the launch event, All Our Kin’s presence in the Bronx is an affirmation that family child care is pivotal to the early childhood infrastructure of New York City. The room buzzed with excitement and possibility. One provider expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of professional development opportunities that were not only tailored specifically to home-based care, but that sounded fun! Another commented that her 20+ years as a family child care provider have been difficult, tiring, and isolating; but, through All Our Kin, she was hopeful that she would finally get the support she needs to focus on the joy in her job.

These sentiments align with the vision that All Our Kin brings to New York City: family child care providers are valued for their work, equipped with the tools to succeed, and ready to share that success with the children and families in their care. “Our goal in New York City is to replicate the deep, transformative impact that Argentina experienced through her work with All Our Kin in Stamford,” said Natalie Kianoff, All Our Kin’s New York City Director. “The thirty providers at the launch event are just the beginning. We are excited to continuing building relationships in the community and working hard to support family child care providers in the Bronx and the children and families they serve!”

If you are a home-based child care provider in the Fordham/University Heights area of the Bronx, we would love to hear from you! Contact us to learn more about our supports and services in New York City by calling 914-348-1734 or emailing NewYork@allourkin.org.

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National Adoption Month: Family Child Care Providers Support All Families

November is National Adoption Month, when child welfare agencies across the country work to increase national awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system.

Like foster families, family child care providers offer a surrogate family for children when their parents are not able to care for them. These providers support families in a multitude of ways and ensure that children are in safe and nurturing environments throughout the day. They are community resources, both caring for children and referring families to programs and opportunities that meet their needs.

When it comes to finding child care, family child care providers are often the first choice for socially and economically marginalized families. These providers’ programs are typically located nearby, reflect the diversity of their communities, cost less and are more likely to offer flexible hours. They give families opportunities to pursue gainful employment, higher education and more, knowing their children are in familiar homes. This relationship can keep children safe and families strong.

Economic and social factors impact the risk of child maltreatment and neglect. Family child care providers can mitigate this risk by connecting families to resources, from economic resources to services for children with delays or disabilities. The work of family child care providers, and the work of All Our Kin in supporting these valuable community resources, helps children and families thrive by promoting economic opportunity and social engagement.

What if all parents had access to quality, affordable child care programs?

What if every community were empowered and supported to ensure that every child begins their life with all the advantages, tools, and experiences that we, as a society, are capable of giving them?

As I reflect on the needs of all types of families, policies and programs that support their success, like those of All Our Kin, help me imagine these possibilities.

Ana Elisa is the Research, Evaluation, and Data Specialist at All Our Kin. She is an adoptee who spent several years studying adoption and child welfare policy. Earlier this year, she led a workshop at the American Adoption Congress Annual Conference on the role of institutional policy in minimizing secrecy and promoting respect for all family members.

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Child Care in Crisis: Connecticut’s Cautionary Tale

The following is the text of a blog written by All Our Kin CEO Jessica Sager as part of the National Women’s Law Center’s Child Care NOW guest blog series. The original blog post can be viewed here

CCN_1-295x295At the National Women’s Law Center gala last week, Elizabeth Warren spoke from the heart about the critical importance of child care and its impact on her own life.  As a child care advocate, I was both moved and saddened by her speech, as I reflected on the challenges children and families face in my own state of Connecticut.

I am the founder and CEO of All Our Kin, an organization that works to create and sustain high-quality home-based child care programs for families that desperately need access to care. These families rely on vouchers to help them pay for the care that we create. However, recent changes to the federal Child Care Development Block Grant, combined with our state’s budget deficit, have led to a crisis in funding that severely limits families’ access to vouchers. The consequences are devastating: child care programs are closing, working parents are making impossible choices between their job and their children’s healthy growth and development, and thousands of children are missing out on important early learning opportunities.

Connecticut’s is a cautionary tale; as an early adopter of new federal regulations, we are already seeing the impact of inadequate funding on our early childhood ecosystem. By 2018, most states in the country will face the same harsh realities. We must act quickly to ensure that families nationwide are not stripped of the critical support they need to access early care and education.

In Connecticut, two full-time working parents earning state minimum wage will make a gross salary of $42,016 per year; the average cost of child care for an infant and a preschooler is more than $20,000 per year. Child care vouchers make it possible for thousands of children in these low-income families to attend licensed child care programs that meet safety and quality standards, thereby allowing thousands of parents to participate in the workforce.

However, since August of last year, Care4Kids, Connecticut’s voucher program, has been closed to new working families. Without Care4Kids, many parents find themselves choosing between leaving the workforce or placing their children in unlicensed, unregulated care. Child care providers are struggling to stay open in the face of dwindling enrollment. And, of course, those most affected are our youngest children, who, at a critical time in their development, are losing access to safe, high-quality early care and learning experiences.

Care4Kids has been closed to the majority of new families for more than a year. Over that time, Connecticut lost 11,914 Care4Kids slots—that means that 11,914 less children are currently being served by the voucher program than were being served before the program closure. This is more than a 50 percent decrease in the number of children being served. For our youngest children, the impact is most severe: 52 percent of the slots lost since August 2016 are infant and toddler slots.

Soon after Care4Kids closed to new working families, we surveyed our network of home-based child care providers to assess the impact. Just months after the program closed, 69 percent of our family child care providers reported having to cut back on household expenses as their income declined. Fifty-five percent of child care providers knew parents who had to turn down a job offer because they could not afford care, while 56 percent knew families who chose to enroll their children in unlicensed care.

“Parents and providers can’t survive like this,” Jacqueline Almanzar, a family child care provider with nineteen years of experience in early childhood education, told us. While Jacqueline’s program typically operates at full capacity, she is now down to two full-time children. “This is the worst I’ve seen things since starting my child care business. Every week, I get calls from parents who need care, but they can’t afford it without Care4Kids.”

Many child care providers are doing everything they can to help parents access care, even significantly lowering their rates or caring for children for free. But it’s not sustainable. Child care providers need to be able to support themselves and their families, and providing high-quality early care and education is expensive. Connecticut’s child cares—both centers and home-based programs—are closing; child care center closures increased by 55 percent in 2016-2017, compared to the previous year.

The damage that we are doing to our state’s economy, its infrastructure, and its residents will not quickly be undone. Child care programs that took years to build will disappear. Parents will lose jobs. And children’s health, safety, and development will suffer.

We know the solution to this crisis: a fully funded Child Care and Development Block Grant. This is not a Connecticut problem—lack of investment in an early childhood system that meets the needs of all working families is a national problem that requires national leadership. In Connecticut, we’ve seen the results of doing nothing. The good news is that we have the opportunity to turn things around. It’s time for Congress to take immediate action to fully fund the Child Care and Development Block Grant so that parents can work, children can learn, and child care providers can support families with high-quality care.

Jessica Sager, Esq., is the co-founder and chief executive officer of All Our Kin, and a lecturer in education studies at Yale University. She is a Pahara Aspen Fellow, a Public Voices Fellow, and an Ashoka Fellow.

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For Years, She’s Inspired All Our Kin’s Providers and Staff. Now, Nilda Aponte is Inspiring Women Across the Country.

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When Catherines, a women’s clothing brand, released its fall collection earlier this month, All Our Kin’s very own Nilda Aponte was among the models featured. Through their national campaign, “Living an Inspired Life,” Catherines seeks to highlight real women making a difference in their communities and inspiring others to do the same.

And as a fervent advocate for women and children in New Haven, who approaches her work transforming the lives of All Our Kin’s family child care providers and the children and families they serve with an incredible passion for justice and a genuine love for others, it is no surprise that Nilda was one of the five women chosen.

“I was so honored to be selected; it’s something I never imagined in my wildest dreams,” says Nilda, reflecting on the experience. In May, Catherines sent Nilda and her daughter Sarah down to Cape May, New Jersey for three days of pampering and photo shoots at Willow Creek Winery and Farm. “It was a whirlwind few days,” Nilda recalls. “The best part was the opportunity to connect with the other women who were chosen: laughing, sharing stories, and celebrating the incredible work that is being done in the community. It was really powerful.”

As part of the campaign, Catherines interviewed each of the women about what drives them in their work. “I’m most proud of my service to others when I see parents speak up and advocate for their children and their rights,” says Nilda. That statement exemplifies the type of leader Nilda is—she uses her voice to encourage, empower, and motivate others to reach their full potential and see themselves as leaders.

This is the approach Nilda uses in her work with family child care providers at All Our Kin. And the story of how she got here is truly special. “I came to Connecticut on vacation, and I stayed because of All Our Kin,” Nilda remembers, smiling. “Somehow everything fell into place to allow me to stay and grow with this organization and in this community, and I’m so grateful.”

In 2003, Nilda was living in Puerto Rico, raising her five children and working towards her Master’s degree. She boarded a plane to Connecticut to visit her brother, who lived in Stratford. She made it a point to spend some time in New Haven to see Yale University. As she was walking around the city, she spotted the Spanish newspaper La Voz. In the corner was a tiny advertisement that indicated that All Our Kin was looking for part-time help. Something about the advertisement stuck with Nilda; she called the number and made a decision: if she got the job, she was going to stay in Connecticut.

“My mother thought I was crazy!” Nilda laughs. “She tried so hard to convince me to come back to Puerto Rico. I was leaving my whole life behind. But it felt right. I was at a point in my life when I knew I was ready for a change.” And as if in response, the stars aligned: Nilda got the job with All Our Kin, she got a house nearby, and she got subsidized slots for her two youngest children at Creating Kids Childcare Center, a high-quality local preschool program that is also a longtime partner of All Our Kin. It was meant to be.

When Nilda joined All Our Kin in August of 2003, she was the fourth staff member and the first Tool Kit Licensing Coordinator. Since then, she has taken on a variety of roles and has been pivotal to All Our Kin’s growth, launching the Tool Kit Licensing Program in Hartford and Norwalk and heading expansion to Bridgeport. In 2015, Nilda returned full-time to All Our Kin’s New Haven office as the Provider Showcase Program Director. In this role, she heads an innovative new initiative aimed at raising the quality of child care and giving parents and employers easy-to-understand information, all in one place, about high-quality local family child care options.

“Coming to New Haven has really shown me that I have a voice, that I can speak up for my children, and that I am part of a community. When I lived in Puerto Rico, everything centered on the family; I never felt a broader sense of community. But since moving to New Haven, my community has become an extension of my family, and I have raised my kids to be engaged as well,” Nilda says.

Throughout her time in Connecticut, Nilda has received numerous awards and recognition for her service, dedication, and leadership. She attributes her success to her ability to approach all things from a place of love: “I think with love, you can accomplish so many things and really get to people’s hearts.” We could not agree more—Nilda touches the hearts of so many in the All Our Kin community every day, and we are so excited to see her honored through the Catherines campaign!

 

Nilda.PNGTo learn more about Catherines’ “Living an Inspired Life” campaign, see photos of Nilda in the fall collection, and read Nilda’s interview, click HERE.

 

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Back to Basics: Ten Years Later, Flora Soto Brushes Up On Her Business Skills

Flora (Lolly) Soto has been working with children for her entire adult life, both as a family child care provider and as a parent. Together with her husband of 41 years, she has raised nine children, seven of whom she adopted through Connecticut’s foster care system. She has long been the owner of Lolly’s Daycare in West Haven, where she takes great pride in facilitating the healthy growth and development, and the early learning experiences, of her own and other’s children.

“I do it for the smiles, and for the little moments that bring such joy to the lives of caregivers and parents. Last night, my youngest foster child took three steps and called me ‘Mama’ for the first time. These are the things that melt my heart. Whether the children in my program are laughing, crying, smiling, or pouting, I feel lucky to be a part of their growing experience,” Flora reflects.

Flora first came to All Our Kin 10 years ago, when she went through the Tool Kit Licensing Program and took the 10-week entrepreneurship series. Over the years, the demands of owning a business and raising a family led Flora to lose touch with All Our Kin’s Family Child Care Network. That is, until she got a call from All Our Kin Business Consultant Jane Lee. Jane was looking to reengage former All Our Kin providers in the organization’s business supports and services. Flora was looking to brush up on her business skills after her daughter, who had handled all of the accounting for her child care business, moved away. It was a perfect match.

Over the course of six months, Jane visited Flora’s program every other week for one-on-one Business Consulting sessions. These sessions covered everything from accounting and record keeping to parent contracts and Flora’s handbook. Jane and Flora carefully reviewed and revised every document that is part of the enrollment packet for Flora’s program, focusing on updating content and creating brand recognition by adding the logo for Flora’s program to everything. In addition, Jane brought Flora resources to share with the families in her program.

“Family child care providers are often a trusted source of information for the families in their programs and the members of their communities,“ Jane says. “Flora takes that role very seriously. Not only was she quick to apply every business-related suggestion that I shared with her, but she was also hungry for ways to better connect the children and families in her program to community resources and services. She truly approaches her work with families in a holistic way.”

For Flora, All Our Kin’s Business Consulting program has transformed the way she manages her family child care business. She credits Jane with helping her organize every aspect of her business, which in turn has freed her to focus more on her role as an early childhood educator. Flora’s reintroduction to All Our Kin enforced the skills she had learned through the entrepreneurship series many years prior, empowered her to master new business and marketing strategies, and ignited a desire to deepen her knowledge of early childhood curriculum and development through All Our Kin. She hopes to join All Our Kin’s Educational Consulting program in the fall.

“It’s hard to put into words all the ways that Jane’s Business Consulting sessions have helped me. Just this morning, I told her about how things seemed to be breaking around the house left and right, and she reminded me that I can write off some of these unforeseen expenses for the business. She is always finding ways to help me run my business more effectively, and the knowledge she has shared with me will stay with me forever!” Flora says.

Thank you to The Community Fund for Women and Girls for supporting All Our Kin’s Business Consulting work in the Greater New Haven region. For more information about All Our Kin’s business supports and services for family child care providers, please contact Jane Lee (New Haven) at 203-892-9696 or Katie Stenclik (Bridgeport & Stamford/Norwalk) at 203-491-6727.

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All Our Kin Presents at UNCF Student Leadership Conference

In June, All Our Kin’s Chief Operating Officer Erica Phillips, and Research, Evaluation and Data Specialist Ana Elisa Franco-Labarga had the honor of presenting at United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) 2017 Student Leadership Conference at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Conference Center in Washington, DC. This conference launches a cohort of over seventy exceptional undergraduate scholars into their summer internships in industries as diverse as health care, education and finance, preparing them to make the most of their summer experiences.

Erica and Ana Elisa were charged with leading a workshop on Critical Thinking, in which they presented approaches and tips for the scholars to use when asked to complete an ambitious project. The scholars were encouraged to look at these experiences as opportunities rather than obstacles and learned strategies for successful communication between supervisors and supervisees.

Presented with an approach to project-planning, these scholars engaged with a real-world example of a big question: To what city should All Our Kin expand?

All Our Kin had previously tackled this question of expansion from New Haven to Bridgeport, Stamford/Norwalk, and most recently to New York City. Scholars worked collaboratively to break down the question into approachable sections and create a plan for research and analysis. When presenting their work to the larger cohort, the scholars successfully identified every major question All Our Kin had posed when exploring options for expansion.

In addition to learning a new approach to tackling challenges, scholars learned about All Our Kin’s mission and work. For some scholars, this was their first interaction with a family child care network. Some shared memories of women serving their communities, caring for and educating young children. These scholars were excited about All Our Kin’s mission and eager to engage around the work.

Though they were asked to describe a research plan, not complete the research necessary to select a city, one scholar told us all the answer from the start: New York City. Just as they guessed, All Our Kin will be focusing on New York City, for now. We hope that some of these scholars will work with All Our Kin in the future, helping make our vision for growth a reality!

The young people selected to participate in the United Negro College Fund’s Student Leadership Conference left poised to turn their summer challenges into opportunities to shine. They now carry knowledge of the work of family child care providers to their internships and beyond.

United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. They provide student scholarships, financial support to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and serve as the nation’s leading advocate for the importance of minority education and community engagement.

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“I haven’t seen any organization do anything as important as this, as well as this, anywhere”: Emmy Award-winning Filmmaker Greg Jacobs Speaks at All Our Kin Annual Conference

043All Our Kin’s 12th Annual Conference was the largest yet, bringing together over 200 family child care providers from across Connecticut for a day of networking, learning, reflection, and celebration. The conference was held on Saturday, June 3, at the University of Bridgeport, where providers began arriving at 8 AM for the event that is, for many, a highlight of the year. That’s because All Our Kin’s conference gives family child care providers an opportunity that they do not get anywhere else: a day of high-quality workshops, tailored specifically to home-based child care, offered in both English and Spanish.

The theme of this year’s Conference, Welcoming Our Stories, Lifting Our Voices, called on providers to recognize the power of their lived experiences and the potential of their collective actions. In line with this theme, the morning began with a keynote speech from Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Greg Jacobs, co-founder of Chicago-based Siskel/Jacobs Productions, and co-director of No Small Matter, a documentary about the campaign for high-quality early care and education for all children in the United States. Reflecting on the work of All Our Kin, Jacobs told the audience, “You can’t have high quality child care NSM Natashawithout the providers who do the important work of caring for young children. I haven’t seen any organization do anything as important as this, as well as this, anywhere.”

In addition to framing the conversation around the critical importance of investments in early care and education, Jacobs shared video clips from No Small Matter with the audience. One clip stood out: it featured All Our Kin’s own family child care provider Natasha Auguste-Williams, owner of Sweetpea Home Daycare in Bridgeport. In the video, Natasha’s love for her work and love for children was tangible, drawing huge applause from her fellow providers. The message was clear: a national child care system cannot exist if it does not include the incredible family child care providers like Natasha who are going above and beyond for our communities’ youngest children.

120Following the keynote, family child care providers participated in a variety of interactive workshops, from  “Mindfulness for Stress Reduction” to “Veggies and Sweets- Getting Children to Love One and not Overdue the Other.” The workshops were led by instructors with expertise in both early childhood education and adult learning. Several of these instructors were All Our Kin staff members, while others were family child care providers in the All Our Kin network, bringing their firsthand experience creating exciting learning opportunities for children in home-based settings. Providers in attendance left each workshop feeling empowered to implement new strategies and activities in their programs.

During lunch, providers heard from a very special guest speaker: David Wilkinson,DW and providers Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. Commissioner Wilkinson, who most recently served as Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation under President Barack Obama, told providers that he knows the value of the work they do for families and for their communities. He shared his experience growing up poor, with a superhero single mom whose hard work and nurturing care facilitated his success—all the while knowing that one small mishap could have completely changed his life trajectory. “Intervening in early childhood is the best opportunity we have to set someone on the path to success. Children depend on those around them. Supporting the child means supporting parents and caregivers. And if the whole country had All Our Kin, we would be doing a much better job of that,” Wilkinson said.

1445.2At the end of the day, it was clear that the conference was about much more than professional development; it was a recognition that family child care providers do some of the most important work there is—caring for and educating our youngest children—and they deserve to be honored for that work. They are leaders in their families and in their communities; they are strong women full of compassion, creativity, and courage. And that is why, year after year, All Our Kin’s Annual Conference will continue to celebrate them by welcoming their stories and lifting their voices.

A special thank you to All Our Kin’s Dana Holahan and Kim Braun, without whom the conference would not have been possible. Their endless hard work and commitment to creating an experience that was of the highest quality for providers made the day a great success. Thank you as well to the University of Bridgeport for hosting the conference, and to the many volunteers who helped along the way.181.JPG

 

 

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