When Maria Edith first came to All Our Kin five years ago, she had long dreamed of running her very own child care program that provided a caring, loving, and family-like setting. Though she had worked in child care centers before, she was eager to grow in the field and take on new roles—like those of program director, curriculum designer, and business owner—in addition to the one she held most dear, that of early childhood educator. She yearned to open a family child care program and start caring for children in her own home.
Through All Our Kin’s Tool Kit Licensing Program, a collaboration with the Connecticut Children’s Museum, Maria Edith began preparing to obtain a family child care license and open her very own high-quality child care program. She submitted her application materials, became First Aid and CPR certified, and made sure her space would pass inspection by the Department of Public Health, all with the support of All Our Kin’s licensing specialists. Together with All Our Kin staff and our Tool Kit boxes’ curriculum materials and toys, Maria Edith transformed the living room of her small, two-bedroom apartment into a space that not only met basic health and safety requirements, but was ready to encourage the learning and healthy development of young children.
On January 1, 2009, Maria Edith opened the doors to her Spanish immersion licensed family child care program, Fun Learning Home. She was fully enrolled shortly after, and has remained full ever since. Thanks to the parents who have sent multiple children to Maria Edith and referred her high-quality program to others, she’s never even needed to place an advertisement. In the words of one parent:
Maria has been such a gift to our family and to the close-knit community of families she has built. She is creative, kind and generous. She has a deep love for all of our children and has created a vibrant and nurturing learning environment. Our children adore her. We are forever grateful for all that she has brought to our lives.
In Maria Edith’s program, children have the benefit of learning through an art-centered curriculum that encourages creative thinking and problem-solving. She teaches children in her program about the forms and styles of famous artists like Picasso and Modigliani. They learn about textures, shapes, and colors, and are treated like artists themselves. The children’s creations are featured prominently throughout the space, and every year Maria Edith makes each child an album of his or her work. She also held an exposition of her children’s artwork at a local restaurant, which allowed families and over one hundred community members to celebrate the young artists, whose ages range from infants to preschoolers. “Art teaches creativity, which will help children throughout their lives, like [by] being able to solve problems creatively,” says Maria Edith. While activities and learning units change frequently, Maria Edith’s daily routine stays the same, helping children feel safe and secure.
Three and a half years after receiving her family child care license and opening her program, Maria Edith moved into a single family home on a quiet street. A firm believer in the need for ongoing professional development opportunities for family child care providers, she continues to engage with All Our Kin to expand her early childhood expertise. She is an active member of All Our Kin’s Family Child Care Network, attending monthly workshops and trainings. Maria Edith recently participated in All Our Kin’s two-part workshop series at the Yale University Art Gallery, where other providers were eager to learn some of her strategies for integrating art into her curriculum. Currently, Maria is working with All Our Kin’s educational consultants toward becoming accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care.
Maria Edith’s commitment to the field of early childhood education is exceptional. We are glad that All Our Kin has been able to answer her call for professional development opportunities specifically geared toward family child care providers, and look forward to helping her educate young children for years to come.