Twenty-two years ago I began the difficult quest of finding a child care provider that I could trust for my six-month-old son. Center-based care for Diego was out of the question. I wanted him in a “homey” place with a provider who could offer a seamless transition from home to child care in a location that was convenient to my work schedule as a social worker, which often included evenings.
I finally settled on my neighbor down the street, whom I’ll call Teresita for this post. Teresita was the prototype of a good family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) provider. She was warm and loving, spoke Spanish, cooked the pupusas and black beans that my son loved, and even had a granddaughter who was a little older than Diego, who became his “more knowledgeable other.” Teresita was wonderful and our families became close.
When my son turned two, feeling like he needed more stimulation—more educational toys, more “quality”—I moved him to a licensed Family Child Care (FCC) provider. She was great, but my son suffered because his new provider only spoke English. He also wasn’t used to the peanut butter sandwiches she provided or to being the only brown child. I started to ask myself questions like, What is quality? Why should I have to sacrifice culture and language, which meant a great deal to my family and my child, for “early childhood quality.”
As a parent, shouldn’t I be able to have both? What if I could help Teresita gain knowledge of early childhood education strategies that she could implement with my son? Wouldn’t that be the ideal situation?