Posted in Business Practice

What’s It Mean to be a Family Child Care Provider?

The answer to that question is as varied as family child care providers are, but we do have a common foundation.

We know that family child care providers are in this business because of the children, but it’s more than just taking children into our homes. Family child care providers are first and foremost small business owners. We have chosen this career path to financially provide for ourselves and our families. If you question if we qualify as a small business, look at the process we all go through to open and to remain open. The regulations are covered in our 62 page FCC Licensing Rule that we must meet. These minimum health and safety regulations cover everything from how to store breast milk, to the annual professional development we need, to the temperature we need to maintain within our program.

As successful small business owners it is essential to build a business plan, look at branding and marketing, and cover benefits like health insurance and retirement. Without considering how we will run our small business we cannot do what we opened our doors to: support children and their development.

The purpose of our small business qualifies us as educators. When most hear “educator” they immediately think of public school teachers, but educator has a broader meaning: a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. Family child care providers, in fact all in the child care workforce, are educators.

Family child care providers are much more than just educators.

We are food service managers:

  • Order food and beverages, equipment, and supplies
  • Oversee food preparation, portion sizes, and the overall presentation of food
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas
  • Ensure that employees comply with health and food safety standards

We are property managers:

  • Keep the property in safe and habitable condition.
  • Responsible for the physical management of the property, including regular maintenance and emergency repairs.
  • Quality improvement efforts

We are first aid responders:

  • Specialized training
  • First to arrive and provide assistance at the scene of an emergency, such as an accident, or natural disaster

We are bookkeepers:

  • Perform payroll functions in an accurate and timely manner, and submit payroll taxes
  • Conduct reconciliation of all accounts on an as needed basis
  • Maintain and balance the general ledger in an accurate, complete, and up-to-date manner
  • Perform all activities related to the accounts payable function
  • Perform account receivable functions including invoicing, deposits, collections, and revenue recognition
  • Prepare financial reports through collection, analysis, and summarization of data

We are both housekeepers and house cleaners:

  • Dusting, vacuuming, sweeping and mopping the floors in all rooms.
  • Cleaning the bathrooms, including mirrors, toilets, showers and baths.
  • Cleaning the kitchen, including wiping down appliances, counters, sinks and cabinet doors.
  • Washing and drying dishes and putting them away.
  • Changing bed linens and making the beds.
  • Washing, folding clothes.
  • Cleaning interior windows.
  • Removing garbage and recycling.
  • Restocking personal items such as toilet paper, tissues, etc.
  • General tidying of the rooms. This includes putting away toys, decluttering and light organizing.
  • Running errands.
  • Caring for pets.

We might also be employers and be responsible for all the tasks involved with hiring, training, evaluating, and firing.

Most importantly we are educators!

We:

  • Maintain a safe and comfortable environment
  • Provide age-appropriate active supervision and behavior guidance
  • Develop schedules and enforce routines
  • Plan and implement lessons
  • Observe, gather and document child’s growth and behavior
  • GAther and communicate observations with child’s parent/legal guardian, providing supporting resources as appropriate
  • Address cultural and/or special needs. This includes emotional, physical or educational. Let’s just look at food for a couple of examples: If a child has a food allergy, the provider must be aware of the content of the food the child is offered or is eating. / If a child’s culture or religion doesn’t allow certain foods we offer acceptable substitutes.

As family child care providers we have chosen an incredible career. It is both challenging and rewarding. The next time someone asks “What do you do for work?” Proudly answer: “I’m a small business owner. I operate a licensed family child care business.”

Author:

FCCAM works to unify, promote and strengthen quality professional family child care in Maine. We understand the critical role of child care providers in the lives of children and families. Through collaboration with other organizations we work to increase awareness of our profession and the value of a strong child care system to Maine's diverse communities.