Training Family Child Care Providers in Baltimore

Posted December 1, 2023
A young Black woman sits at a table with three pre-school-age Black girls. The young woman is smiling and offering assistance as the children draw with markers.

To com­bat the short­age of high-qual­i­ty child care providers, the state of Mary­land has part­nered with sev­er­al pri­vate non­prof­its — includ­ing the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — to fund Grow­ing Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Fam­i­ly Child Care (GOFCC). This statewide ini­tia­tive pro­vides train­ing, coach­ing and resources to indi­vid­u­als inter­est­ed in own­ing a fam­i­ly child-care business. 

Access to child care is crit­i­cal to the well-being of chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Bal­ti­more is one of many Amer­i­can cities with child care deserts,” neigh­bor­hoods in which high-qual­i­ty child care options are inad­e­quate. Licensed child care cen­ters oper­at­ed out of the owner’s house — com­mon­ly referred to as fam­i­ly child care — are a pop­u­lar and afford­able solu­tion for many work­ing par­ents. But the process of launch­ing these busi­ness­es can be daunt­ing for child care providers.

Not only does this pro­gram help Baltimore’s work­ing par­ents access the child care they need in com­mu­ni­ties with lim­it­ed options, but it also con­nects entre­pre­neurs to what they need to start their own busi­ness­es,” says Sara Coop­er, a senior asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion’s Bal­ti­more Civic Site.

What Is Grow­ing Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Fam­i­ly Child Care?

Bal­ti­more’s iter­a­tion of GOFCC began in 2022 and serves two functions:

  1. expand­ing the avail­abil­i­ty of afford­able, qual­i­ty child care for fam­i­lies in Bal­ti­more; and
  2. help­ing res­i­dents — many of whom are women of col­or — start their own small businesses.

When we began design­ing the Bal­ti­more pro­gram, we ini­tial­ly focused on the south, east and south­west por­tions of the city that we believed had the largest child care deserts,” says Tra­cy Har­ris, direc­tor of the Bal­ti­more City Child Care Resource Cen­ter at The Fam­i­ly Tree, which leads train­ing in the city. When we saw that there was demand for this kind of train­ing all across Bal­ti­more, we expand­ed our focus to the entire city.”

Par­tic­i­pants in the Bal­ti­more GOFCC pro­gram receive:

  • per­son­al­ized guid­ance as they nav­i­gate the fam­i­ly child care licens­ing process;
  • men­tor­ship from child care professionals;
  • help with doc­u­men­ta­tion required by the Mary­land State Office of Child Care;
  • assis­tance prepar­ing their homes for inspec­tion pri­or to licens­ing; and
  • impor­tant resources and mate­ri­als, includ­ing a lap­top and print­er, the Gee­Whiz Edu­ca­tion child care cur­ricu­lum and 12 months of access to Brightwheel’s child care busi­ness man­age­ment soft­ware.

A Small Busi­ness Suc­cess Story

LaToya Turpin, a West Bal­ti­more res­i­dent, was work­ing in child care and inter­est­ed in start­ing her own busi­ness. A friend showed her a GOFCC flyer.

When I reached out to the resource cen­ter, they answered a lot of ques­tions I had and extin­guished some of my fears about start­ing my own child care cen­ter,” says Turpin.

She found the pro­gram wel­com­ing — her instruc­tors were nev­er too busy to answer ques­tions or pro­vide assis­tance. GOFCC nev­er felt like work to me. They real­ly made each class feel fun and encour­aged us to make con­nec­tions with our peers in the program.”

Upon com­plet­ing the pro­gram in 2023, Turpin received her fam­i­ly child care license and opened a fam­i­ly child care cen­ter. She notes the cur­ricu­lum taught her sev­er­al entre­pre­neur­ship basics, including:

  • the impor­tance of cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing con­tracts;
  • how to keep up with paper­work; and
  • busi­ness mar­ket­ing strategies.

GOFCC also con­nect­ed Turpin to addi­tion­al child care classes.

She adds, More than any­thing, GOFCC made me rec­og­nize that I’m not alone in this jour­ney and that I’m part of a com­mu­ni­ty of child care providers.”

New Fam­i­ly Child Care Pro­grams in Baltimore

The Fam­i­ly Tree’s GOFCC pro­gram has yield­ed some remark­able results in a very short amount of time,” says Cooper.

With the assis­tance of GOFCC, 15 new­ly licensed fam­i­ly child care pro­grams have opened in Bal­ti­more. Thir­teen of the new­ly licensed fam­i­ly child care pro­grams from the first cohort par­tic­i­pate in Mary­land EXCELS, the state’s qual­i­ty rat­ing and improve­ment sys­tem for licensed child care and ear­ly edu­ca­tion pro­grams that meet nation­al­ly rec­og­nized qual­i­ty stan­dards. The program’s sec­ond cohort, which began this year and includes 37 par­tic­i­pants, will con­clude in 2024.

Read the 2023 KIDS COUNT® Data Book to learn more about the cur­rent state of child care

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