Alicia's Family Child Care
Alicia came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2004 with her husband and four children, who were then ages 1 - 11. Although she intended to care for her children as her primary job, the family arrived with debt and she needed to earn an income. She found work harvesting cherries, often 10 - 12 hours per day. Her concern as a mother was "Who will care for my children?" She said, "I tried to find people." She heard, "So-and-so can take care of your children. I didn't know what professional child care was."
Years later, her daughter became a mother and asked Alica for help. At first, the two had an informal arrangement, in which Alicia's daughter gave her money to offset the cost of food. Later, her daughter enrolled in a subsidy program that would pay Alicia as a "family, friend and neighbor" caregiver. Alicia was happy her daughter was able to go to work with the peace of mind that her children were safe.
The income, however, was insufficient to cover Alicia's household expenses. Her daughter suggested that instead of going out to find a job, Alicia could get a child care license and care for additional children. The two of them went searching for information and assistance.
Alicia said, "The truth is, when you want to get your license, you don't know anything about the process." The only help available to her before Nurture "was like here are the forms, go and fill them out. I was very frustrated."
She said, "Nurture, for me, has been my salvation. Before Nurture, I was very lost. I didn't know what to do." She said, Nurture "grabbed me by the hand and we started to walk holding hands together." She continued:
Nurture is a program that has taught me from the beginning. Other programs available are very general. And what I like about Nurture is that it takes you step by step. For example, it took me step-by-step through the process of preparing my licensing paperwork. It taught me to set up my environment ... I didn't even know what an 'environment' was. But the videos helped me to care for children so they are happy and it is still my living space.
She also learned about "how to talk to parents; how are you going to describe your program, and about contracts and recordkeeping." She said that Nurture helped her think through "what I can offer to parents; what activities do I have that parents will want for their children." She continued, "parents feel happy that their children are learning in daycare." She learned how to explain, "that the meals I serve are healthy and we do outdoor and indoor activities." She said that Nurture introduced the idea of "a curriculum and how to organize the day."
Alicia wants to focus her program on infants and toddlers, where the need is the greatest. With a Small Family Child Care License, she can care for four children in this age group, or up to eight in a mixed age group.
About her emerging business, Alicia says, "You get to be in your home and you are taking care of other parents' children who need you." Her advice to others is "if you want to start a home daycare business, don't be afraid; Nurture will really help you."