In New York City alone, almost 16,000 children who are under the age of three and receive government-subsidized child care spend their early years in home-based programs. That is why NYC has undertaken ambitious initiatives such as EarlyLearn NYC, which recognized the importance of ensuring quality in family child care programs by setting standards that focus on social and intellectual development in a safe environment. In May, The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School hosted a forum to discuss its latest report: Bringing It All Home: Problems and Possibilities Facing NYC’s Family Child Care. The forum highlighted the important progress of the EarlyLearn NYC initiative, but also illuminated many of the challenges facing NYC’s family child care landscape.
On October 11, All Our Kin was honored to participate in a panel discussion that offered some solutions to support quality in NYC’s family child care programs. Jessica Sager represented All Our Kin as a member of the panel, which focused on sharing best practices for effectively and sustainably raising the quality of family child care programs in New York City and beyond. The event drew a packed house that included family child care network staff, child care providers, industry representatives, policymakers, NYC Administration for Children’s Services administrators, and philanthropists, all united in the same goal: to learn about and share strategies for improving quality in family child care, so that all children and families have the foundation they need to succeed in life.
In addition to Jessica, the panelists included:
- Lorelei Atalie Vargas, Deputy Commissioner of Early Care and Education, City of New York Administration for Children’s Services
- Toni Porter, Senior Principal, Early Care and Education Consulting
- Diana Perez, Vice-President, Home-based Childcare Services, WHEDco
- Catherine Barnett, Executive Director, Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York
Kendra Hurley from The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School was the moderator, and provided some helpful context by summarizing the forum in May and laying the groundwork for this follow up discussion.
Lorelei Atalie Vargas started the discussion by sharing her vision for a comprehensive family child care network in NYC. Although it can be daunting to imagine widespread change in a place as large as New York City, Lorelei reminded the group: “Change is possible in a child care system this size. And family child care is a big part of that change.”
Next, Jessica discussed All Our Kin’s model, focusing on our strength-based approach that views providers as partners. She noted that our model has been highly successful, increasing the supply of child care in southern Connecticut, yielding greater earnings for providers, and providing significant macroeconomic benefits to the wider community.
Toni Porter followed Jessica’s presentation to share the findings of her study: Examining Quality in Family Child Care: An Evaluation of All Our Kin. The results of her evaluation were clear: our model has a significant impact on quality in family child care. All Our Kin providers scored on average 50% better on indicators of quality in family child care than non-All Our Kin providers.
Following Toni, Diana Perez explained the ways in which WHEDco is already supporting family child care providers in New York City, working with both licensed and legally exempt home-based providers to create child care programs that are safe and nurturing for children. She also highlighted an aspect of home-based care that is often overlooked: provider wellbeing. At WHEDco, they know that when providers thrive, the children in their programs will thrive too.
Finally, Catherine Barnett wrapped up the conversation by reminding us that family child care is critical to the sustainability of the restaurant workforce. Why? Because as discussed in ROC’s latest report Nightcare: The Growing Challenge For Parents On The Late Shift, the majority of restaurant workers are women with nontraditional hours, and they need to access child care too. Unlike center-based care, family child care providers tend to be more flexible in their hours, making them a valuable resource for parents working in industries like food, retail, and health. To learn more about the challenges faced by parents with nontraditional hours, check out Jessica’s TIME op-ed: How Irregular Hours Hurt Low-Wage Parents.
All Our Kin staff members had a great time learning about family child care in NYC! We look forward to future opportunities for collaboration in support of NYC’s children, families, and child care providers, and thank all those who brought their enthusiasm and ideas to the event to make it such as success.
A special thank you to Philanthropy New York for hosting the event, and to the event sponsors: Viking Global Foundation, the Child Care and Early Education Fund, and the Grossman Family Foundation. Thanks, as well, to the Grossman Family Foundation, for funding the above-mentioned report, “Examining Quality in Family Child Care: An Evaluation of All Our Kin.”