Home-Based Child Care Voices from the Field: Leadership and Business Support
Home-based education leaders Ruth Kimble, DeCarla Burton, Martina Rocha, and Erma Jackson contributed to this third blog in the HBCC Voices from the Field Series.
Tips for Home-Based Child Care Network Leaders: Effective Supports for Network Members
We learned early on that if we wanted to be effective home-based educators, we had to take on leadership roles because we could not rely on support from elsewhere. As leaders, we have created networks that are a lifeline to our members; it is through these networks that we develop relationships with them, offer them trainings on a variety of topics, and get them involved in committees. We believe that it is only by learning together that we will survive as businesses. Here are some essential supports we offer our network members in their goal to becoming effective providers and successful business owners.
- Eliminate the Feeling of Isolation and Burnout
When you work from your home, you don’t realize that there are other professionals experiencing and feeling many of the same things as you. Our networks allow educators to bounce ideas off and encourage each other. We help providers realize that they are not just one person caring for and educating a small number of children but that they are part of a community celebrating its children together. In doing so, we elevate what we do which helps providers feel more empowered.
- Make Members Feel Like Active Members of a Family
When potential members are interested in our network, we give them an orientation about who we are and what we do. Then we find out what they can do for the network. What are some of their talents? How can they help to continue to build the network? Once they become members, they are part of our family that stays connected and offers mutual support and skills.
- Use Social Media
We use a lot of social media tools. Many people weren’t “there” at first, but we have helped each other along. Now we have all our members connected via group chat, where we connect every day. We share motivating greetings in the morning such as, “Good morning, educators. We love you. Get out there and welcome the children.” Then someone gets an idea and before you know it, we have a wonderful event that was created by the members coming together to make it happen. We also a “Power Hour Chat” where we discuss issues that are pressing and that we want to solve. This puts everyone in the frame of mind that it’s not “Big I’s and Little You’s”; rather, we all have something to give and to bring to the table. We learn from each other.
- Hold a Leadership Conference
We hold a leadership conference every year that allows us to reflect on who we are as leaders and educators. This is when many Aha moments happen: people realize they are leaders with something to contribute and that they are advocates in and assets to the field. We allow people to find themselves, and then we continue to encourage them. We try as leaders to lead by example.
If We Had a Magic Wand
If we had the funding that we deserve to support HBCC networks, we wouldn’t change what we are already doing; we would just do it on a broader scale. We would continue to empower educators and create programs that nurture and shape the young minds of the future and motivate our members to set goals to incorporate best business practices. We would continue to build the trust and mutual respect that results in an extended family and lasting partnerships. And we would change our public image and help others to see us as we see ourselves — educators working to elevate quality in everything we do.
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