All Our Kin’s Eighth Annual Family Child Care Conference this June featured a new and different way of engaging with providers. Conferences can spark inspiration, but keeping that momentum going can be difficult. That’s why the large room in which attendees ate lunch and listened to keynotes featured a large poster labeled “I COMMIT” in English and Spanish. They were invited to write their commitment for the year on a sticky note and hang it on the poster—and, as a little incentive, to take a few jellybeans!
Some of the commitments were concrete. Several family child care providers pledged to attend every All Our Kin meeting and conference for the rest of the year. Two committed to earn their Child Development Associate degree, and one to renovate their program’s outdoor play area. These very ambitious goals show that there is no limit to what a provider can accomplish in a year. The commitments also make clear a passion for constant growth and development. The conference attendees were at every stage of professional development—from people hoping to earn child care licenses to well-established educators working with All Our Kin to build organic gardens—and all of them shared a common interest in improving the quality of their program.
This passion for improvement is not surprising, given the other commitments, which providers used as a space to reflect upon the value of the work that they do. One provider pledged to “improving life outcomes for ALL children.” The goals revealed just what high quality family child care can do: “build community,” and “build a stronger society.”
These bold comments showed that All Our Kin providers are passionately committed not only to improving the lives of the children they teach, but also to using their skills as educators to help to end social inequality and injustice. By providing all children a strong start in life, family child care providers, as one commitment put it, “make this country a place of equal opportunity.”
The commitments to personal evolution and changes within programs fit well with the theme of the conference: Caterpillar to Butterfly. The development does not stop there, though—as the saying goes, the wings of a butterfly can cause a hurricane across the globe. The goals of providers to improve their programs are in fact commitments to creating, as one provider described it, “hope for a better world.”