Coming Home: The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Conference
Homecoming for me is the annual National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Conference. It is the one place where family child care providers and those who support family child care providers can come together to reminisce and discuss the history, successes, challenges, and future of the field of family child care. While this year still held a lot of those feelings for me, there was something different in the air.
Since 2005, there has been a 48% decrease in the number of family child care providers nationally. While those who support family child care have been raising the alarm for years to anyone who would listen, this past year, the nation felt it. So, what did family child care providers and those who support them have to say at this year’s conference?
- We showed up! Family child care providers kept their doors open during COVID-19 for essential workers and their children.
- We were loud! Family child care providers demanded to be considered essential workers in order to access products, materials, and funds to keep children and families safe and healthy.
- We cared! Family child care providers recognized that trauma-based care was essential to supporting children and their families.
- Listen to us! Family child care providers asked those who support early care and education to respect them as professionals and develop supports focused on their unique needs as educators and business owners.
Guess what? They were right! Family child care providers deserve to have support resources that recognize the complexities of the work that they do. For those of us who support family child care, we must be committed to listening to the field and developing a family child care ecosystem that is as unique as they are. Developing research-based resources that support mixed age groups, from birth to age 12, is a must. Technology that works for the provider—versus the provider working for the technology—is absolutely necessary. Family child care providers need access to professional development that meets their needs and schedule.
I left the conference this year with so many emotions. I felt privileged to have been given the opportunity to listen to their needs. I felt the heaviness of knowing that, without the support they need, family child care will not be an option for many families. I felt relief in the fact that we here at Teaching Strategies already have so many supports that meet their unique needs. But, I also felt an urgency to do better.