Training Family Child Care Providers in Baltimore
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:
- expanding the availability of affordable, quality child care for families in Baltimore; and
- 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.