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Edward Street Partnerships: Project Flourish’s Family Childcare Apprenticeship

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Thanks to family childcare providers across the city, families with young children have choices that match their cultural values, common languages, budget, and home and work locations.

Yet, despite their importance to the community, many family childcare providers (who are early educators themselves) struggle to hire and retain staff, and meet financial obligations. During the pandemic, some went out of business.

In response, the Center for Childcare Careers at Family Services of Central MA, an Affiliate of the Seven Hills Foundation, developed a Family Childcare Cohort (FCC) of its Project Flourish Child Development Apprenticeship.

FCC increases childcare availability by encouraging stability

Pandemic shutdowns, low enrollment, and staffing issues forced many family childcare providers to close their doors for good. Project Flourish wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“We wanted to provide stability for early educators in Worcester and support the providers that are building their businesses,” says Leslie Baker, Program Director, Center for Childcare Careers at Family Services of Central MA.

To do so, Project Flourish’s curriculum helps educators earn Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials from the Council for Professional Recognition. This paves the way for teacher certifications through the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), for educators who move into center-based programs. 

Lessons provided in English, Spanish & Portuguese

Family childcare providers have a passion for the care and education of young children. However, the business side of childcare can be challenging, particularly for non-native English speakers. 

Project Flourish, in partnership with Neighborhood Villages, is providing an additional component of business training developed by United Way Shared Services MA. Educators learn everything from record-keeping to taxes, best hiring practices to relationship-building. FCC apprentices receive classroom instruction and are paired with experienced coaches.

“It’s very empowering for educators,” especially in today’s economy, says Llanet Montoya, the Cohort’s instructor and owner of Llanet’s Family Childcare. “The economic situation that we’re living in right now is impacting every program. Inflation is impacting stability and administrative work is taking time away from working with children.”

In such a complex industry environment, Project Flourish “shows educators that we are not alone on this,” says Montoya. “We’ve created a network of trust where we share challenges and solutions. Providers who are new to the field aren’t left alone without support.”

Project Flourish apprenticeships help solve industry-wide staffing shortages 

Modeled after apprenticeships in the traditional trades, Project Flourish supports the advancement of early career professionals through a combination of classroom instruction, coaching, professional networking, pay increases when benchmarks are reached, and, upon graduation, professional certifications. 

The Family Childcare Provider Cohort is Project Flourish’s first family childcare cohort and the third of five cohorts overall. Project graduates, including those who completed their training in May of 2022, receive an EOLWD Apprenticeship Certificate and become eligible for EEC teacher certification. Additionally, they earn required professional development hours towards Lead Teacher licensure as well as the nationally recognized CDA certification. Graduates can also earn credits towards a higher education degree–up to six at Quinsigamond Community College and up to nine at Mount Wachusett Community College, subject to CDA portfolio review.

The FCC Cohort of Project Flourish was made possible by a United Way of Central MA Community Challenge grant and the support of community partners like Edward Street.

To learn more about the Project Flourish Child Development Apprenticeship, contact Leslie Baker, Program Director at Family Services of Central MA, an Affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation, at 508-796-1978, or visit www.fscm.org.

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