My first two weeks at All Our Kin

My name is Rachel, and I’m All Our Kin’s brand-new Policy Fellow. I wanted to take this chance to introduce myself, tell you a little about what brought me to All Our Kin, and describe what readers of this blog can look forward to in the coming year.

Though my family is from Minnesota and Pennsylvania, I’m a lifelong Connecticut resident. I was raised in Fairfield County and studied History as a student at Yale College. After graduating, I moved to Washington, D.C. to research racial equity issues and barriers to immigration reform.

While working in D.C., I kept coming back to two issues: education and economic opportunity.  These two topics were at the root of many of the disparities I was studying—even in realms as seemingly distinct as disease prevalence, voting levels, and small business ownership rates. Programs that reduced the educational achievement gap or promoted workforce development also seemed to be at the heart of the most promising steps toward greater equality. I became especially interested in the field of early education, since a growing body of evidence shows that early experiences are essential to preparing children to thrive in school and beyond.

RachelImagine how glad I was to discover All Our Kin, which offers coaching, consultation, and technical assistance to family child care providers. Despite caring for a great number of our state’s low-income infants and toddlers, these providers often lack access to professional development opportunities. By raising the quality of care offered in family child care settings, All Our Kin helps more children gain the foundation that they need to make the most of life.

Part of the beauty of All Our Kin’s work is that it doesn’t focus on kids to the exclusion of parents or of providers. All Our Kin empowers providers to become successful business owners and to see themselves as part of a community of professionals. Its programs also help working parents who are confronting a shortage of excellent and affordable child care options in the state.  All Our Kin’s approach to economic development and early childhood education is great for providers, great for kids, and great for families.

As you can tell, I’m quite the enthusiast about All Our Kin’s mission! And though this is only my second week at All Our Kin, my excitement about being here has only grown as I’ve come to know All Our Kin’s staff. I’m also just beginning to recognize the true dedication of All Our Kin’s providers. Members of the All Our Kin network come here on evenings and weekends for professional trainings to improve their skills as educators. For many of them, this is in addition to working full 50-60 hour weeks.

This sparks so many questions for me. What drives providers to go to such lengths to be a part of the All Our Kin network? How do our providers see their work, and how does that vision change through their connections with other providers and with All Our Kin staff? I’m also interested in learning more about interactions between providers and parents. How do parents find providers? How do providers and families establish trusting, strong relationships?

On top of its direct work with providers, All Our Kin advocates for smart local and state policies that support quality improvement in family child care settings and the expansion of positive early learning experiences for all kids. With the creation of the statewide Office of Early Childhood—though the  Office’s permanent authorization remains to be settled—this is a very promising time for these kinds of policies, and for early childhood advocacy in the state as a whole.

Here, too, I’m full of questions that I hope to explore over the next year. What are the goals that providers, families, and advocates have for this new Office? What steps are local coalitions taking to prepare children for success in New Haven, Bridgeport, and the surrounding towns where All Our Kin’s providers work?

This year I’ll continue to update this blog with a blend of policy updates and instructions for action, day-to-day tips for caregivers, and stories straight from our providers to help you understand issues from their personal perspectives. I hope you’ll check in regularly—or subscribe, if you’d like to receive our posts straight in your email inbox—to learn more about early childhood policy and All Our Kin’s activities. And if you have advice on what should be featured on the blog, please feel free to contact me at rachel@allourkin.org. Thank you for reading! 

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