November is National Adoption Month, when child welfare agencies across the country work to increase national awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system.
Like foster families, family child care providers offer a surrogate family for children when their parents are not able to care for them. These providers support families in a multitude of ways and ensure that children are in safe and nurturing environments throughout the day. They are community resources, both caring for children and referring families to programs and opportunities that meet their needs.
When it comes to finding child care, family child care providers are often the first choice for socially and economically marginalized families. These providers’ programs are typically located nearby, reflect the diversity of their communities, cost less and are more likely to offer flexible hours. They give families opportunities to pursue gainful employment, higher education and more, knowing their children are in familiar homes. This relationship can keep children safe and families strong.
Economic and social factors impact the risk of child maltreatment and neglect. Family child care providers can mitigate this risk by connecting families to resources, from economic resources to services for children with delays or disabilities. The work of family child care providers, and the work of All Our Kin in supporting these valuable community resources, helps children and families thrive by promoting economic opportunity and social engagement.
What if all parents had access to quality, affordable child care programs?
What if every community were empowered and supported to ensure that every child begins their life with all the advantages, tools, and experiences that we, as a society, are capable of giving them?
As I reflect on the needs of all types of families, policies and programs that support their success, like those of All Our Kin, help me imagine these possibilities.
Ana Elisa is the Research, Evaluation, and Data Specialist at All Our Kin. She is an adoptee who spent several years studying adoption and child welfare policy. Earlier this year, she led a workshop at the American Adoption Congress Annual Conference on the role of institutional policy in minimizing secrecy and promoting respect for all family members.