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.