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Home-based Child Care Voices from the Field: What Policy Makers Need to Know

December 21, 2021

Home-based education leaders Ruth Kimble, DeCarla Burton, Martina Rocha, and Erma Jackson contributed to this fourth blog in the HBCC Voices from the Field Series.

Home-based Child Care Leaders Have Proven Their Skill and Worth: Fund Them Now

Home-based child care leaders are plugged in to the needs of providers, families, and young children. And they prove their inventiveness over and over as they design projects that develop workforce skills, engage children and families, and create a sense of solidarity within their networks (that they themselves have built and maintained) and the community at large. Their passion is evident in their desire to provide high-quality care and education to young children and create new leaders through their networks, regardless of the lack of state support. But, without funds other than those they raise on their own, they face steep challenges. Here are their thoughts on those challenges — and ideas for resolving them.

Working for Free

We have so many plans and so much work to do. But we have no funding and there’s only so much you can expect people to do for free. As it is, we can’t offer a stipend to our educators for the projects we take on. They volunteer their time and jump in when they can. If we could pay them, we could do so much more. Instead of going full speed ahead, we have to slow down sometimes and take solace in the fact that though we might not be moving as fast as we’d like, at least we’re still moving. We have to remember that it’s not the job of early childhood educators to show up on their own time at various events and that sometimes life just gets in the way.

Differing Levels of Commitment to the Field

We know that home-based educators aren’t all invested at the same level. If we had the capacity, we’d spend more time on efforts to empower the home-based providers who see themselves as babysitters rather than educators because that’s what our cultures have told them they are. Whether or not they come along with us on our journey to ensuring that others see us as professionals, our goal is to make certain the industry is highly regarded.

What We’d Tell Policymakers

  • Understand that we take seriously the healthy development of the young child’s brain and that we are prepared to provide a responsive learning environment in which children thrive.
  • Invest in the fact that we are professional educators providing a viable, specialized form of care and education that meets the needs of many parents. Give us the same respect, benefits, and the opportunities as other professional businesses.
  • Don’t allow a few bad apples to spoil the basket for all of us. The few who may not be fully committed to providing quality care and education for our children do not represent most of us.
  • Meet with us so we can share how we have supported home-based child care without funding. We would be happy to demonstrate how our work supports businesses and motivates home-based providers to move beyond their comfort levels and work toward achieving higher standards than basic licensing.
  • See us as a sustainable model for training and creating new home-based educators and leaders.

We have the ability to change the home-based child care landscape. Support from the state would signal to the field and to parents that we are a quality option, particularly for families in underserved communities. Given that we exist in so-called child care “deserts,” where there is a shortage of formal care, we could be seen as a solution to a long-standing problem. Help us to reach out and serve these families so that their children have the opportunity to benefit from quality early care and education.

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