Sofia cares for her neighbors’ children along with her own son; as she started caring for more children, Sofia was interested in learning more about how to prepare them for school, as well as how to run her expanding home-based business. Because her English isn’t very good, Sofia was too nervous to sign up for a college class, but when she heard about the PASO Institute, a training program specifically for Spanish-only speaking child care providers, she thought she would give it a try.
In 2016 in Weld County, there were 14,249 children with parents in the workforce that needed childcare, yet there were only 6,400 licensed childcare slots, meaning the majority of children are in the care of family, friends and neighbors. As seen in the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, children of Hispanic origin in Colorado drastically underperform when compared with their Anglo peers – 23% of Hispanic children (and 51% of white children) scored proficient or higher on the reading NAEP.
In 2017, the graduation rate of Hispanic youth in Weld County was 77% whereas for white youth it was 82%. Benefits of family, friend and neighbor (FFN) care include:
- low provider-to-child ratios
- emotional attachment and investment between provider and child
- individualized attention
- cultural congruency
- close relationship between provider and parents
- provide off-hour and weekend care, supporting parent employment
The Providers Advancing School Outcomes (PASO) Institute is one of the first in Colorado to work specifically with the unlicensed family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) childcare setting, in this case with Spanish-only speaking providers. Through the program, the providers complete 120 hours of early childhood care and education training, mostly during weekend classes.
The curriculum is based on the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification program. Topics include child development principles (cognitive, language/literacy, social-emotional, physical/motor), school readiness, child safety, nutrition, learning environment and more.
In addition to the weekend trainings, each participant receives visits from a United Way staff member who serves as a mentor. At these visits, the mentor observes the provider’s interactions with the children, reinforces and models activities taught in recent classes and provides support. Events are held throughout each cohort as well to celebrate the providers’ achievements, bring together providers and the families they care for and celebrate children.
“Little by little I learned to recognize the abilities children have and how to stimulate their limitations. By providing discipline, love and giving them a stimulating environment for their emotional and physical development, I am helping them prepare themselves for a life full of respect, self-confidence and success.”former PASO Institute participant