A collaboration between Auburn University’s Family Child Care Partnerships, or FCCP, program and PNC Financial Services Group is now in its third year, and is enhancing how more than 200 home-based child care providers nurture and educate more than 1,000 infants, toddlers and preschoolers throughout Alabama.
The Family Child Care Partnerships, a program of Auburn’s College of Human Sciences, employs an experienced corps of full-time mentors who work directly with in-home child care providers – especially those serving geographically isolated communities. It is the only training organization in Alabama focused on privately owned, state-licensed child care services, and among the select few programs funded by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
Central to FCCP’s training efforts is its annual “Focus on Family Child Care” conference, underwritten in large part through ongoing philanthropic support from PNC. The conference, conducted annually in the summer, offers training on best practices for caring for infants, toddlers and preschoolers through workshops for Alabama’s licensed family child care providers and their assistants.
PNC has continued to expand conference participation by serving as the presenting sponsor, allowing FCCP to fund attendee scholarships that defer the cost of travel, attendance and educational materials. PNC’s previous support also has helped implement new curriculum modules in science, math, art and music for more than 230 child care providers and parents.
“PNC has a long history of investing in early childhood education throughout our communities,” said Brian Bucher, PNC regional president for Alabama. “Our support of Auburn University’s Family Child Care Partnerships helps deliver access to high-quality early learning for the underserved, which is at the heart of our mission. Investing in Alabama’s young children, their families and teachers is simply the right thing to do for our communities and the economic health of our region.”
Since its inception in 2000, FCCP has trained more than 700 family child care providers to foster the healthy growth and development of the children in their care. Ellen Abell, FCCP’s executive director, and Ellaine Miller, FCCP’s managing director, say it is crucial for providers to use proven knowledge and skills as the basis for their child care practices, especially during the critical stage of brain development between birth and age 3.
“Quality interactions with caregivers and educators who have a well-founded knowledge of child development and learning are key to children’s school readiness,” Miller said.
Annual conference programming, as well as year-round FCCP mentoring, enables providers to incorporate new and improved educational experiences in the areas of social and emotional intelligence, literacy and hands-on math- and science-based learning. FCCP leadership strategies also help providers define leadership and professionalism in terms of family child care, examine their own leadership styles, and address concerns they face from program-specific and statewide perspectives.
By participating in FCCP professional development programs, providers can achieve national accreditation through the National Association for Family Child Care, which currently five percent – twice the national average – of Alabama providers possess.