Family Childcare Educators Learn Developmental Screening Tools Through DRIVE Course

“I had one child in my care who I was concerned about. When I heard about DRIVE, I knew this was it. The training I needed to provide care to that child… I am a childcare provider, an educator, and I just want to say thank you.” – Miosotis Morel

United Way celebrated the hard work and dedication of 26 family childcare (FCC) educators in Boston who recently completed a 17-week course that will help ensure more children are screened for healthy development and connected to resources when appropriate.

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) Support and Promoting Healthy Child Development course, designed and delivered by United Way’s DRIVE initiative, provides group trainings, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. The 26 educators enrolled in the initial cohort completed 142 questionnaires, administered screenings to 78 children, and shared information and resources with their families.

Developmental screenings are essential to track the developmental progress of children. United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley has prioritized this critical process through DRIVE, founded in 2014. DRIVE is a data-driven, research-backed approach that enables and empowers caregivers of all kinds to make informed, strategic decisions to tailor supports and resources to children and ensure they enter school ready to learn. Since 2014, DRIVE has collected developmental screening data from over 17,000 children ages 0-5 across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“On many occasions, providers are the ones who spend the most time with children and can identify what our children and families need so that we can provide the resources. It’s because of their dedication to the children and families of Boston that they find the time after a long day to take this course,” said Paula Gaviria Villarreal, Child Care Program Director for the City of Boston’s Office of Early Childhood.

This DRIVE course is part of a larger partnership with the City of Boston’s Office of Early Childhood to support and sustain FCC providers throughout the city.

United Way’s Shared Services MA initiative also supports early childhood educators in developing their businesses. In September, United Way celebrated 10 new FCC educators who completed the six-month Licensing Support course. The program provides license training and support, coaching, and technical assistance for future FCC educators, guiding them through the process of obtaining their license from the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and providing the additional training necessary to open FCC businesses in their own homes.

Following the completion of the FCC Licensing Support course, educators are 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. Educators are then encouraged to enroll in the DRIVE ASQ Support and Promoting Healthy Child Development Course.

“These three courses form a journey for family childcare educators, from starting a family childcare business, developing the skills to strengthen that business, and learning the tools to best support the children and families within their care,” said Karley Ausiello, Chief Community Impact Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

During the December 8 celebration at the Hyde Park branch of the Boston Public Library, educators received certificates for completing the course as well as gift bags with child developmental materials including ASQ learning activity booklets and fine motor kits. The brief speaking program included remarks from FCC educator Miosotis Morel and United Way’s Early Childhood Screening Trainers Rudi Montoya and Carina Nuñez. Educators were joined by family, friends, and community partners, including Amy Kershaw, Acting Commissioner of the Mass. Department of EEC.

For more information on DRIVE, view the 2022 issue brief, Why We Need Developmental Screening Post-Covid: Learnings from United Way’s DRIVE Initiative.