Family child care providers got a formal “thank you” and “job well done” at the first ever McLeod County Family Child Care Appreciation/Recognition Event this fall.
McLeod County Social Services hosted the celebration with funding from Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF). Amy Berry is the Social Worker/Licensing Specialist in McLeod County and works with providers throughout the year. She wanted to highlight how important these caring professionals are to local children and families, as well as the community.
“The idea came from brainstorming methods to retain current providers and recruit new family child care providers, and to provide them with the appreciation and recognition that they deserve — and very seldom get,” Amy said.
Also known as “home-based” providers, family child care providers care for small groups of children in a residential building, typically their homes. McLeod County has 90 current licensed family child care providers, and nearly half attended the appreciation/recognition.
The event was made possible through a SWIF Early Care and Education Grant. SWIF Early Childhood Specialist Tari Niemeyer was there to celebrate and updated attendees on SWIF’s Grow Our Own initiative to lift up the one in six kids in southwest Minnesota living in poverty. Ensuring families have affordable, reliable care is a critical piece to of this work helping kids, and the region, thrive.
At the celebration, Chris Carrigan of Hutchinson received the 2017 McLeod County Family Child Care Provider award. Staff from Help Me Grow, Child Care Aware, Center for Inclusive Child Care, Born to Thrive, McLeod County Public Health and Hutchinson Public Library attended, as well as County Commissioner Doug Krueger, Human Services Director Gary Sprynczynatyk and Social Services Children’s Services Supervisor Sally Aubol.
In the future, Amy hopes to host meetings twice a year with training, updates and space to collaborate among providers. She would also like to start a mentoring program to match new family child care providers with experienced providers.
“We want family child care providers to have opportunities to get together and provide support to one another,” Amy said.