This month, All Our Kin was fortunate enough bring Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, the Early Childhood Planning Director for Connecticut, to visit the programs of family child care providers. Dr. Jones-Taylor was appointed by Governor Malloy to create a plan for a coordinated, statewide birth-to-eight early care and education system. We were thrilled that Dr. Jones-Taylor looked to us to connect her with family child care programs where she could observe high quality care in action. With great pride, we brought her to All Our Kin providers who we feel epitomize quality and exemplify how family child care can meet and exceed the needs of children and families from a diverse range of communities.
Our first visit was to a family that has been working with All Our Kin for nearly ten years. When Felicitas first came to All Our Kin, she was caring for a few children in her family's tiny, one-bedroom apartment. Over the past nine years, All Our Kin has supported Felicitas as both she and her husband Juan obtained family child care licenses and worked to bring their double program to extraordinary levels of quality. Recently, Juan and Felicitas fulfilled a dream by moving to a two-family home with space devoted exclusively to their two incredible programs that serve children from a range of backgrounds and income levels.
When we walked into Juan and Felicitas' house, we did not just walk into a child care program. We walked into a real-life map of New Haven! Cereal boxes were arranged in a grid in the front room with labels such as "Day care," "Library," and "Casa de Samuel." On the window sill were smaller scale dioramas of streets with stop signs and traffic lights. As Felicitas explained, the children are in the middle of a unit about maps and transportation. In between songs and activities, Felicitas, All Our Kin staffer Tanya Michaelson, and Dr. Jones-Taylor discussed the many milestones that Felicitas achieved while developing her program, as well as her dreams for the future. "I have big plans for the backyard," explained Felicitas. "There are always ways we can improve!"
Upstairs in the infant and toddler program, Juan and his assistant, his daughter Monica, greeted us along with smiling infants, one and two year olds. Though at vastly different stages of development, each child participated and was active in his or her own way as Juan held up a toy snake and asked, "Where is the snake's tongue?" "Where are the snake's hands?" "Where are the snake's feet?" After singing a song in English, an outgoing two-year-old started asking several questions in Spanish, emphasizing his requests with sign language. "Trilingual," Dr. Jones-Taylor remarked, "This program is amazing."
We have long known that Juan, Felicitas, and their programs are amazing, and we're so pleased that Dr. Jones-Taylor now knows it, too!