Supporting family child care providers
Looking into Family Child Care, a set of online learning modules, was designed for agency supervisors to use as a guide in training staff members to more deeply understand their work within the family child care setting and to more fully support family child care providers.
The modules offer:
- Foundational concepts relevant to improving family child care.
They embrace core elements of practice, including perspective-taking, communication, reflective practice, developing partnerships, and learning to handle conflicts.
- Practical tools for reflecting on and improving support of providers.
Each module contains a narrated presentation, along with goals, handouts, activities, and suggested readings for the trainer to review in preparation for the training.
About the project
The Looking into Family Child Care modules are part of a long-term project to improve quality in family child care by building the capacity of agency staff to support family child care providers. The project began in 2010 with funding from the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation for an in-person training program for family child care support staff.
The modules have been designed to be used in staff training sessions by agency supervisors, trainers, or others who offer support and supervision to staff who work directly with family child care providers.
Thirty-four staff and supervisors from six agencies and organizations throughout the United States have used these modules in staff training sessions.
- More than half of agency staff members reported that the training changed the way they do their work with family child care providers.
- Many supervisors reported that having a framework for coming together with staff and listening to their perspectives was the most helpful aspect of the modules.
- “Although many of us have been doing the work with family child care providers, some of our consultants are new to the work, and it is always good for the more experienced to give knowledge and insight. The modules have also given us a new perspective and have inspired us in our work.” — supervisor feedback
Research suggests that supports such as networks or professional organizations, coaching and consultation, or home visiting programs are associated with higher quality caregiving in family child care homes. Moreover, programs and organizations that offer their staff ongoing training, reflective practice, and/or professional development may be more likely to offer more effective support services to providers.
Making family child care centered training materials available online offers greater access for professional organizations to engage staff in training sessions that contribute to their supportive work with family child care providers.
Core elements of practice
The modules’ content is based on the core elements of practice identified by Bromer and Korfmacher. These elements were derived from support specialists’ reports of their own practices with providers and changes they made to their practices as a result of training.
Core Elements of Practice
- Social support: Getting together regularly with other colleagues at work or across agencies gives specialists opportunities to share ideas and get support from each other.
- Group meetings with other specialists gives opportunities for brainstorming approaches and strategies.
- Group meetings reduce the isolation of working with home-based providers.
- Reflective practice: Weekly opportunities for reflecting on work with providers offers specialists support and stress reduction.
- Reflective supervision can help specialists “step back from the situation” and give themselves “that moment to check out what’s going on.”
- Reflection can help specialists set boundaries for themselves between work and personal life.
- Perspective-taking: Specialists find their work with providers is more effective when they can take the provider’s perspective.
- Perspective–taking involves approaching differences with an open mind.
- Perspective-taking involves examining your own “biases” in working with providers.
- Communication: Communication and listening skills are key to working effectively with family child care providers.
- Communication skills allow specialists to shift the focus of their visits with providers from problem solving to listening.
- Communication skills allow specialists to gather information and ask open-ended questions about providers’ goals before offering advice or solutions.
- Developing partnerships: Effective specialists build collaborative partnerships with providers.
- Developing partnerships means shifting from telling providers what to do, to sharing in the problem solving with providers.
- Learning to handle conflict: Specialists experience a lot of conflict and difficult situations in their work with providers. Having the following tools to use can reduce stress and frustration:
- Asking questions rather than making assumptions.
- Gathering information about a situation through observation.
- Asking for help and support from supervisors and co-workers.
Bromer, J. & Korfmacher, J. (2012). Evaluation of a relationship-based training pilot for agency specialists working with home-based child care providers: Final report summary. Chicago, IL: Erikson Institute.
Experience the modules
We invite you to experience the Looking into Family Child Care modules.
Below are several resources for getting started with the Looking into Family Child Care modules.
Select a module title below to enter into the module.
Orientation to Family Child Care
What is Family Child Care?
Engagement of Providers, Part I & II
Working with Mixed-Age Groups
Social Emotional Development & Behavior in Children
This module focuses on the importance of social emotional development from the prenatal period through childhood, increasing understanding of behavior as communication, and understanding how behavior and social emotional development are linked together. At the foundation is the importance of trusting relationships when communicating around children’s challenging emotions and behaviors.
Enter the module
Trauma in Children
To be notified when new modules are available, contact the project team at [email protected].
Resources for family child care
“Supporting Family Child Care Quality: Systems, Program, & Provider Perspectives”
“A Provider and State-Level Perspective on Promising Strategies, Opportunities, and Challenges”
“Supporting Family Child Care Providers in Supporting Children & Their Families: Understanding Social Emotional Development, Behavior, & What it Communicates”
Interested in customized training?
Looking into Family Child Care is a powerful example of the early childhood expertise and resources that Erikson and our Continuing Education team can bring to your staff through our customized training.