On Thursday, September 15, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley hosted a graduation ceremony to celebrate new family childcare (FCC) entrepreneurs in the City of Boston who recently received their family childcare licenses from the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care.
Ten new family childcare entrepreneurs successfully completed the FCC Business United Licensing Support program designed and delivered by United Way. The program is a six-month course that provides license training and support, coaching, and technical assistance funded through a grant from the City of Boston.
The goal of the program is to support future family childcare educators, guiding them through the process of obtaining their license and providing the additional training necessary to open family childcare businesses in their own homes. Through a partnership with Tech Goes Home, a nonprofit organization working to advance digital equity, participants were also given a free laptop. Educators received training on creating a website for their business, as well as access to the Shared Services MA web platform, which hosts over 2,000 vetted early childhood resources.
United Way’s FCC Business United is an evidence-based, four-pronged approach providing: 1) licensing support to help navigate the state’s licensing process; 2) financial stability and growth opportunities via small business grants and business training specific to the unique FCC business model; 3) coaching, technical assistance and Communities of Practice to implement learnings, strengthen networks, improve program capacity and quality, and understand opportunities to build wealth via tax savings, retirement planning and business and personal credit building; 4) instruction on developmental screening to identify early learning needs unique to individual children.
Through this approach, FCC providers gain tools to succeed long-term as both educators and owners of FCC businesses. This program simultaneously increases economic opportunity for childcare providers and the families they serve, as well as targeting developmental supports for children in need.
By increasing the number of high-quality early education seats in the city, the program is a key component of Boston’s recently established Office of Early Childhood, whose mission is to provide universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all infants, toddlers, and children under five.
“We are thrilled that this pilot program has been so successful in recruiting and licensing new family childcare providers,” said Kristin McSwain, Senior Advisor and Executive Director, Office of Early Childhood at the City of Boston. “The addition of these educators to our landscape is a small but important step towards closing the childcare gap in the City of Boston. We are excited to welcome the graduates to our growing list of entrepreneurs offering programs designed to increase access to quality childcare.”
Building up this workforce is also critical, as worker shortages are causing classrooms to close, even though demand for childcare across the Commonwealth is exceedingly high. Recent reports from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, and the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission have all underscored the need for immediate investment in the early childcare sector.
“Family childcare educators are such an important part of the solution to the childcare crisis impacting our communities,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, at the event. “We will continue working with the City of Boston and municipalities throughout our region to ensure there are stronger career and business support opportunities for Black and Latina family childcare entrepreneurs, which will increase the number of quality childcare options for families.”
Graduates Share Their Stories
The 10 graduates from the pilot program are: Norka Hurtado Amparo, Sindy Chavez Brooks, Wakeelaa D. Evan Charles, Altagracia De Los Santos, Patrice Evans, Keisha Marshall, Tanika O’Dell, Maireny Pimentel, Teriera Putman and Maria Rosario. Seven educators in this pilot cohort received their licenses from EEC and four are already operating childcare businesses in their homes.
During the ceremony held at Project Hope in Roxbury, two graduates provided remarks about the process, with De Los Santos providing remarks in Spanish and Marshall speaking in English.
“I worked for 14 years as an assistant in a center and today thanks to the Licensing Support Program, my dreams have come true, and I own my own business,” said Altagracia De Los Santos.
“For as long as I could remember I knew this moment would come, the moment I would tell my success story and talk about the team who helped me move to another level in my career,” said Keisha Marshall. “This program needs to continue so we can provide children and families with the childcare services they desperately need to become successful. I hope many others have the opportunity I had to make their dreams a reality.”
Upon receiving their license, educators were provided $1,000 worth of materials and equipment (including a printer, ink, paper, curriculum books, business cards and more). Participants in the program were also encouraged to submit an application for the City of Boston’s Childcare Entrepreneur Fund. The Fund awards educators a $3,500 grant and business support through six virtual workshop trainings developed by United Way.
For more information on Shared Services MA, visit sharedservicesma.org.