Home-based childcare providers serve nearly two thousand children in Greater Hartford each day. While these providers are a major source of childcare services for the region’s working families, with many receiving subsidies from the state’s Care4Kids childcare program, providers often receive little or no professional development, capital support or other resources. Pilot programs initiated in Bloomfield, Hartford and Windsor have made a significant difference in improving the experience of children in the care of participating providers by offering small grants for facility improvements and delivering professional development and coaching assistance.
First developed in 2015-16, the Renovate to Educate (RTE) model provides mini-grants for small facility improvements, along with coaching by an early childhood consultant, to enhance the safety and quality of childcare offered in the home. In 2016, the model was piloted in Bloomfield and Windsor – providing coaching and small facility improvement grants to each provider.
Providers worked closely with an early childhood consultant who visited the sites four times over a four-five month period to help providers assess their needs; develop their projects; implement changes to their learning environments and assess the results. Across all 33 items measured, ratings improved from slightly below “fair” (1.7 rating) to “good-excellent” (3.6 rating) after completion of the funded projects. Individual recommendations and plans were developed to identify additional facility improvements and strategies for providers to receive additional training and credentialing.
In 2017, the City of Hartford and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving implemented a second RTE program for childcare providers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Working with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, the Hartford Foundation convened partners to create a Home-based Steering Committee comprised of over 15 local and statewide partners, including the City of Hartford’s Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation. In the Fall of 2017, 15 Hartford providers (14 Spanish speaking) completed ¡Hartford Renovar Para Educar! (Renovate to Educate in Spanish)made possible by a funding partnership between the City of Hartford and the Hartford Foundation.
A new video highlights the most recent work of program participants and support staff involved with Renovar Para Educar!
“(Before Renovar Para Educar!) I was more a babysitter, I made sure the place was okay, and they had food, and they were safe,” said Pam Alvarez, who runs the Pam’s Tiny Toons. “Now, I am a provider.”
Caregivers completing the program described a wide range of benefits, including improved learning environments, connecting with other providers, improved program quality and a new sense of professionalism. This project directly addressed a lack of support for Spanish-speaking providers identified by program participants.
Renovate to Educate staff reported that participating providers were able to update their spaces to promote child development, and to view themselves more as professionals. Another benefit noted by staff included connecting providers to one another. Many providers feel isolated; group meetings intentionally included time for providers to interact.
“Efforts such as Renovate to Educate are critical because they reach out and engage a part of our community that is not readily recognized for their significant contribution to the school readiness of children, and their abundant support of working families,” said Elena Trueworthy, the Hartford Foundation’s associate director of Early Childhood Investments. “Family childcare providers play a vital role to ensuring the health and safety of many of our youngest children, and Renovate to Educate provides a unique support that values their important role in our early childhood system.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $720 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.