A Visit to a Family Day Home
October 11, 2018
ChildSavers serves many types of child care providers in many settings. We provide services to large care centers, child care programs in churches, and child care settings in homes. In this blog, we visit a Family Day Home. These unique, neighborhood, and home-based settings often fill a gap for families who would otherwise not have access to child care. They are small businesses usually run by women who love to care for and educate young children.
First Outreach to a Family Day Home
My first Family Day Home Outreach visit was on a warm day in June 2018. I had only been at ChildSavers for two weeks. I was excited and nervous about my first home visit. I asked my team the day before, “So what do you say when you go into a Family Day Home?” Their response, “You will figure it out! You will get it.” While I appreciated their confidence in me, it did not settle my nerves.
I arrived on time in a quiet suburb of Greater Richmond City. I approached the door, still nervous, but then I heard the most amazing sound coming from the inside of the house. The children were talking and a warm, supportive adult voice responded. My goal with the first Family Day Home visit was to help the provider with her professional development needs through the services that Child Care Aware offers. And not only did we accomplish that, she taught me something in the process.
Inside a Family Day Home
After giving me a tour of her home, the provider explained how her day goes and what she does with the children. That morning, she had had three children in attendance: a five-year-old boy, who was relaxing on a small sofa; a three-year-old girl playing in the “kitchen” area; and an 18-month-old girl, cradled in her arms. The child in the provider’s arms wanted to know why this lady (Me!) was here with them today. Noticing the toddler was unsure of me, I took my place sitting on the floor next to the child care provider. The toddler seemed okay with this, as long as her “mom away from home” did not leave her side. The room was full of child-sized furniture, toys, and books. My overall, my sense of the space was that it was created with love.
As we talked, the provider told me how she had arrived at this opportunity to care for children in her home. She had graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in Fashion Merchandising. After other jobs failed to fulfill her, she gravitated towards opening her own Family Day Home. As I looked around the room, her major in fashion merchandising was evident.
She had hand made several of the items in her home specifically for children and was in the process of hand sewing an interactive blanket to update a part of her kitchen area. I was impressed!
The five-year-old who had been relaxing on the couch moved toward the three-year-old. Together, they pulled out crayons and markers and began coloring and talking quietly together. By this time, the toddler had slowly warmed up to me now, but kept her distance. She played on the floor as I continued to talk with the child care provider.
Lessons Learned from a Family Day Home
What I learned that day was important to my new position at ChildSavers. My previous jobs were with child care centers, so I had challenged myself with this new career. Family Day Homes were an unknown for me. Additionally, the news often reported serious tragedies associated with child care providers who cared for multiple children in their homes. I went into my first outreach visit with this impression. And while my position demands me to report any unsafe situations, it also allows me to support the providers who need improvements. That day, I saw how wonderful and safe Family Day Homes could be for children.
Family Day Homes provide an intimate quality of care and a peace of mind to parents and guardians who are looking for an alternative to the larger child care centers. I am still learning the standards and policies associated with Family Day Homes. This includes Voluntary Registration, Unregulated, Licensed, and Subsidy Providers. While I am learning, I am making connections and establishing relationships with providers who open their doors and welcome me into their homes.
When I left the child care provider, it was hard to say goodbye to those adorable, happy children. Yet, I knew that these children were going to have an incredible day with a provider who was engaging, present, and kind. Once in the car, I exhaled and smiled.
Written by Patricia Koon.
Patricia joined the ChildSavers Child Development Services team in May 2018, accepting the position of Outreach and Recruitment Supervisor. In this position, Patricia works closely within the Central Virginia region providing early childhood professionals technical assistance in: class room management, behavioral concerns, child development, nutrition, child care regulations, starting an early childhood program, and quality enhancement. She has more than 28 years of experience in Early Childhood as an Assistant Teacher, Lead Teacher, Assistant Director, and Director of child care centers.
Her most recent experience as a Director provided first-hand knowledge of the Virginia Quality Rating System and the Virginia Infant and Toddler Specialist Network Program. Patricia earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a passion for going out in the community and helping providers become successful in their goals to become quality early childhood professionals.