“I live for the lightbulb moments”
Lottie Brown, a nationally accredited family child care provider and owner of Krayola Park in New Haven, has worked in the field of education for more than twenty years. She was inspired to start Krayola Park while working for the New Haven Board of Education as a preschool teacher. During that time, she realized that many children in the community were experiencing trauma before the age of three. Determined to intervene, Lottie decided to become a family child care provider, working with infants, toddlers, and their families in a more intimate way in order to combat early childhood trauma and facilitate healthy development.
Ask Lottie about Krayola Park, and her passion is evident: “I live for the light bulb moments—the moments when I see a child connect something they have heard before with something new. It’s a beautiful process and it is one of the many joys of this work.” Like many family child care providers, Lottie knows that the work of early childhood education is a holistic process. Her mission extends beyond the learning that happens within the walls of Krayola Park. It is about the wellbeing of the child, the family, and the community. It is this approach to her work that makes Lottie a gifted educator and a natural leader; she goes above and beyond for those around her, lifting up children, families, and fellow providers as a result. With extensive early childhood experience, a knack for public speaking, and a passion for advocacy and storytelling, Lottie is well-positioned to elevate the field.
“I am here to be the voice from the field”
That’s how on Thursday, August 9, Lottie became a panelist at the federal Office of Child Care’s annual State and Territory Administrators Meeting (STAM) in Arlington, Virginia. STAM brings together child care subsidy administrators from across the country to network, participate in peer discussions, share best practices, and attend presentations, all with the goal of improving child care systems and supporting the success of young children, their caregivers, and their families. And this year, administrators were eager to hear directly from child care providers themselves.
The plenary session, “A Peek Inside the Private Business of Child Care,” was designed to help child care subsidy administrators understand the impact of subsidy decisions on child care businesses. Lottie was invited to share the family child care perspective. “I consider myself an advocate for children, providers, and families. My home is their home away from home. I am here to be the voice from field,” Lottie opened. Along with fellow panelists she made the case that instability in child care subsidy programs destabilizes child care businesses; and in family child care, the provider often absorbs the resulting financial loss herself. “I took another job when Connecticut’s subsidy program shut down for 15 months. Even though it meant long hours and late nights, I wanted to make sure that families who relied on subsidy assistance could still access my program,” Lottie shared.
“Invest in organizations, like All Our Kin, that are in a supporting role”
The plenary session touched on many important topics, from the impact of the new federal requirements to reimbursement rates to parent education. One question centered on ways that states can invest subsidy money for maximum impact. Lottie’s answer resonated strongly with the audience. “Invest in organizations, like All Our Kin, that are in a supporting role and can bridge the gap between providers and state regulators. These support systems are critical for making family child care providers feel comfortable in allowing someone into their home, knowing that person is there to partner with them in their success, rather than monitor them.” Attendees saw this as a concrete strategy to take back to their home states.
In all, the plenary session was a huge success. One attendee remarked that it was the best plenary session throughout his years attending STAM. Reflecting on the event, Lottie said, “After the National Association for Family Child Care conference earlier this year, I set a goal for myself to talk to more people in power about how to support family child care. At STAM, I had the opportunity to do that, and to make sure that the voice of family child care was heard. I’m honored to have been included in the conversation.”