Nuestros Niños/Our Children
A grassroots network of home-based providers are building a shared services hub to support high quality childcare & sustainable businesses.
Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)
Our idea has evolved significantly throughout the Prize process through ongoing listening sessions with the end-users, the home-based early childhood providers, parent leaders and our Prize mentor. PCA-ENF conducted a focus group and survey assessment with providers to gauge their readiness to adopt a more formal shared services approach building upon their current success, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. It is very evident that they are ready to move into the next phase of their journey to codify the networks practices, and scale-up the impact. Furthermore, our mentor from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University provided us additional insight through our online session and direct feedback on our grant application. We have taken all this input to refine the project and build a strong application that we are excited to submit.
Name or Organization
Partnership for Community Action (PCA) - Educadores para los Niños del Futuro/Educators for the Children of the Future
Albuquerque, New Mexico
What is your stage of development?
Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD
What is the stage of your proposal?
Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.
Sylvia is a founding member of Educadores para los Niños del Futuro (ENF)/Educators for the Children of the Future and is the President of the network. She started out as a home-based provider and opened a center with her family in 2017. It is through peer-to-peer technical support and networking that ENF is able to build trust and grow the number of quality early childhood providers.
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
The PCA-ENF network uses community organizing approaches to improve the quality, access, & assets of home-based early learning providers by building-up their social, human, & financial capital. This solution will result in improved child-development outcomes for children 0-3 years old. Home-based providers will have the necessary tools to address adverse childhood experiences and be equipped to provide referral services to families. Further, this project will increase stimulate job growth and professional development in the early childhood education sector.
Select an Innovation Target
Network: Connecting people with each other to enhance the reach or effectiveness of new or existing resources.
Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)
PCA-ENF works to build a system of high quality, accessible, sustainable and culturally-relevant home-based early childhood care to address the isolation and lack of resources facing home-based providers in Albuquerque, NM. Locally, there is a high turnover of home-based childcare due to the shortage of support and infrastructure for the sector. Many of these businesses struggle to keep their doors open. PCA-ENF is working to keep quality home-based early learning providers in business. A large number of home-based early childhood providers are not registered with the State. In the attached Childcare Providers in SW Albuquerque Survey Report, 42 percent of home-based providers reported not being registered with the State, limiting their ability to accept childcare assistance and be part of the CYFD quality rating system. We are investing in the home-based provider workforce, infrastructure and incentivizing best practices so that the youngest children benefit from improved adult interactions. PCA-ENF has assisted 31 providers to become registered or licensed & put them on a path towards increasing their quality rating with the State using a peer-to-peer network of support. PCA-ENF uses a three-prong approach. Network members meet monthly to strengthen their workforce development, enhance knowledge, and improve classroom practices. Individual meetings are conducted with members to set goals & generate a work plan. Also, members are assigned with peer mentors for coaching.
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
In ABQ, there is a high turnover of home-based childcare due to the shortage of support & infrastructure for the sector. Providers have identified problems with accessing educational materials; experiencing feelings of isolation & being disconnected to the field of early childhood education; & problems accessing mentorship & professional development to improve their services. Child poverty in ABQ impacts 1 out of 5 children, yet only 1/3 of eligible children are being served by providers.
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
While the early childhood education sector has mostly focused on more formal, center-based childcare, approximately 1/3 of children in NM under 6 years old attend home-based childcare. These home-based childcare businesses are a crucial part of the early childhood sector that support working parents and shape young minds during the most crucial years of brain-development.
Home-based providers are often left to figure things out on their own. In the core areas of curriculum and early learning activities, professional development, and licensing and business planning, home-based early childhood providers can feel unsupported and isolated. In the attached 2015 survey, home-based providers reported that their major challenge to succeed was isolation and the lack of support for their professional development. When providers were asked about what kind of support they would find most useful to help better serve families and learn about child development, the top three responses were (1) access to educational toys and materials; (2) to be part of a group of childcare providers; and (3) to have a mentor who has experience as a home-based childcare provider.
Over the last two years Partnership for Community Action (PCA) - Educadores para los Niños del Futuro/Educators for the Children of the Future has supported its members in the areas of early childhood professional development, leadership growth, business development, and the moving up through the state's quality rating system. Through our unique peer-to-peer leadership model, members have been able to access opportunities efficiently, grow their businesses and make gains in personal and professional leadership. The next phase of the network is to create a shared services resource hub. The shared resource hub will be modeled after the shared services framework. The hub will support the growing network members’ needs including: professional development, business planning, individual educational goals, teaching pedagogy, administration, and human resources. The hub will support the growing number of providers and their professional and community development goals. The hub will be headquartered on the grounds of PCA’s Social Enterprise Center campus, but be focused on building social capital incorporating web-based technology with relational networking. The Social Enterprise Center will host trainings for home-based providers. The hub will also provide back-office support to meet the business needs of early childhood providers. Examples of these areas are hosting child management systems, human resources, teacher and staff development opportunities, assistance to certified pool of substitute teachers, and online programs for the maintenance of records. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Employment Dynamics, 20% of new businesses don’t survive past their first year of operation; and half of businesses no longer exist after 5 years. By providing a shared services framework built upon the established social capital of PCA-ENF- the hub will result in more viable and effective home-based early childhood education services and improved adult-child interactions and outcomes for children 0-4 years old. Through the development of the hub, PCA-ENF will build additional partnerships to support the evolution of the network membership and will serve as a model to strengthen the early childhood workforce across the state. Additionally, the hub will connect parents to existing early childhood leadership courses implemented through PCA that improves adult/child interactions at home. At a systemic level, PCA-ENF will be working to increase the hourly pay for child care providers, increase public funding for early childhood education, and elevate the early childhood profession. PCA-ENF also supports the diversity of the early childhood education field by supporting culturally appropriate services and increasing language access to regulatory and educational institutions for child-care providers. PCA-ENF can ensure that the shared services hub will meet the real needs of the providers, by engaging child-care providers to lead the way while identifying the challenges, building solutions and taking collective action.
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
1. Community childcare home-based providers will benefit from this project as well as the Community childcare home-based providers will benefit from this project as well as the early childhood community at large. Early childhood home-based providers will increase effectiveness of classroom practices, improve their business and financial practices, increase their social emotional health as educators, and have increased opportunities for professional and educational development. Children under the care of childcare home-based providers will receive quality early childhood education before entering pre-k and the k-12 system. Network members will see improved adult-child interactions between the educators as well as between parents and their children. Furthermore, the network will work to build a movement of early childcare home-based providers who provide high quality services and influence policies affecting NM's early childhood system.
2. The network of over 160 members will continue to grow and engage underserved providers that have been disconnected from the formal early childhood system due to language, culture, and home-based nature of their business. For two years the members have benefited from the network in the areas of registration, licensure, professional development and overall technical support, while offering development opportunities to the early childhood sector at-large.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
The attached community-based early childhood survey report shows the systemic challenges early childhood providers face including, but not limited to language access, lack of ability to effectively navigating the state's quality rating system, and overall lack of resources and connectivity. The network is implementing a shared services model to build technical support shared services for home-based providers. The shared services hub will support the needs of emerging and experienced childcare providers to build quality and relevant pedagogy, provide professional and leadership development of members, cultivate smart business practices, and build self-care strategies. Best practices in early childhood pedagogy will be identified and implemented across the network membership. Web-based technology tools will be used to increase the effectiveness of the providers’ business practices and data management capabilities. The overall impact will support the providers in building confidence and increasing their likelihood of succeeding as businesses and maintaining high quality services. Peer-to-peer coaching will provide a strong social network of support to increase the connectivity and success of providers. Over 4,000 children throughout three years of implementation will be directly impacted by shared-services hub, while the systemic/policy advocacy efforts will improve early childhood services for over 40,000 children statewide.
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
Families under the care of childcare home-based providers will receive quality early childhood education before children enter pre-k and the k-12 system. NM is rated 49th in K-12 education and in children well being. We understand that the only way to change this ranking for NM is for the state to invest in quality early childhood development to improve adult-child interactions that can improve brain development in the most crucial years from 0-3 years old. Knowing this, the project will impact approximately 200 of the most vulnerable early childcare providers serving low-income children in ABQ, and prepared them to work intentionally with children in the four areas of development (social emotional, motor skills, cognitive skills, and language). In addition, early childcare home-based providers will have access to the necessary training to improve their services & will be able to refer parent or guardian to local resources. Therefore, there will be a correlation of support within community early childcare provider along with local and state agency for the purposes of supporting the family through a holistic approach. We will see a improved outcomes in our children and families who have received care from network members. The network will build upon their work, generating a movement of early childcare home-based providers who provide quality early childhood education. The goal will be to scale the network to build statewide outreach to an additional 200 providers in 3 years.
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)
The concept is disruptive in that it decentralizes the expertise building that many times stays within organizations making the end-user dependent on their services. Our approach is that the investment is made in building cohorts of leaders within the sector that then work with their peers to improve services and impact on children and families. This approach take community organizing principles and applies a market strategy to maximize return on investment by creating exponential knowledge sharing. The peer-to-peer model allows from providers to learn from shared experiences and real-life solutions that have worked within the sector.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
The opportunity lies in keeping quality home-based early learning providers in business by focusing on resources to identify and develop this sector. In the Childcare Providers Survey Report, 42% of home-based providers reported not being registered with the State, limiting their ability to accept childcare assistance and be part of the CYFD quality rating system. Yet, 80% of respondents reported feeling motivated to move up in the State early childhood quality system. Additionally, of those surveyed 94.5% said they would like to make a living taking care of children. Therefore, our intention is to keep furthering the possibilities and opportunities of early childhood providers through the implementation of a uniquely developed shared services hub suitable for provider’s needs and growth. This model will go beyond mentorship bringing sustainability to the early childhood home-based sector.
The PCA-ENF has used grassroots organizing strategies to identify and reach providers. The providers have come to see themselves as a social impact business that, when done effectively, brings in a stream of revenue while impacting the lifelong learning of children. Women mostly make-up this field of home-based early learning providers- and it is well-researched that when invested-in, women re-invest their earnings back into the well-being of their families. Additionally, early childhood education supports families’ ability to work and contribute economically.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
While the early childhood education sector has mostly focused on more formal, center-based childcare, many families depend on neighborhood and family-based childcare while they work. These home-based businesses are a crucial part of the early childhood sector that support parents and shape young minds.
Home-based providers are often left to figure things out on their own. From curriculum and early learning activities, to licensing and business planning, home-based early childhood providers can feel unsupported and isolated. In a 2015 attached survey, home-based providers reported that their major challenge to succeed was isolation and the lack of support for their professional development. When providers were asked about what kind of support they would find most useful to help better serve families and learn about child development, the top three responses were (1) access to educational toys and materials; (2) to be part of a group of childcare providers; and (3) to have a mentor who has experience as a home-based childcare provider.
In response to this assessment, PCA-ENF has worked over the last two and a half years to support a network of small business home-based childcare providers who are committed to providing a high quality early learning experience in a culturally relevant environment. Through support from the network they can earn licensure, improve their quality of service and business practices, increase workforce development opportunities and build a support system for their growth. The network is comprised of mostly women, who each operate their own early childhood education service and can relate to the successes and struggles of growing a business. PCA is supporting their efforts to implement organizing strategies and further develop the network and codify their improvement practices into a shared-services hub model that will be part of a larger Social Enterprise Center in the South Valley of Albuquerque. The opportunity lies in keeping quality home-based early learning providers in business by focusing on resources to develop this sector. Additionally, a large number of home-based early childhood providers are not registered with the State of New Mexico. 42% of home-based providers reported not being registered with the State, limiting their ability to accept childcare assistance and be part of the CYFD quality rating system, yet 80 percent of respondents reported feeling motivated to move up in the State early childhood quality system. Additionally, of those surveyed 94.5 percent said they would like to make a living taking care of children.
As with any industry or sector, there are challenges in building viable and scaleable businesses, and this is the biggest challenge when working with home-based providers. However, we believe that when we invest in workforce development, infrastructure and incentivize best practices we can increase human and social capital that will maximize outcomes.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)
The business viability of the proposed initiative will be dependent on fee for service revenue and subsidized by grant revenue. The model is built on lean business concepts that will utilize a social network capital to leverage resources for broad impact. This model is based on previous experience by PCA in using peer-to-peer support that invest in the leadership development and capacity building of the network that in turn provide training and support to their peers. They are compensated for their time via a stipend model. This approach helps address the insufficient fee for service revenue model facing some shared-services initiatives.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)
Since the beginning- this initiative has invested time and resource in listening to the providers and creating a strong voice in the communities they serve. Understanding that the providers know their own communities best, we built upon personal experiences to impact the greater early childhood education sector. The first step in our human-centered approach was to conduct an assessment of the home-based provider sector, which was led by community members through a community-based participatory process. The providers interviewed were then asked to participate in analyzing the data and developing solutions to take action upon. This resulted in the development of the Network which will serve as the foundation for the shared-services hub being proposed. The work moving forward will continue to be led by the end-users, the providers and the families impacted by their services.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
1. Our idea came from our organization's historical work to improve educational outcomes for families that need it the most. This work has included K-12 education reform initiatives, community and family engagement efforts, and over the last 8 years building an early childhood education movement through the Communities for Education and Action (CEA) project. PCA continues to build a movement of active, passionate, and engaged parent advocates that promote quality early learning for our state’s children. Through a series of dialogue based, early learning classes, training workshops, and opportunities to take action, parents grow into leaders and strong advocates for their child’s education. The CEA project uses the national Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors curriculum as an organizing tool. Parents from across the community join parent leadership classes that focus on early learning and advocacy. Out of this effort arose the need to better understand the local gaps and needs of the early childhood education sector and how to engage early childhood providers in building solutions together with families to increase quality and access of services. This led to a community-based participatory assessment in 2015, which became the impetus of forming the home-based childcare network.
2. Having early childhood leaders who understand the community’s experience, combined with the value of parents and their families as assets, ensures the development/capacity of strong leaders with whom can build a sustainable early childhood education sector that serves families who need it most.
3. My earliest memories as a child are the various caregivers that my parents entrusted to care for me while they worked. It was a mixture of aunts, cousins, neighbors and home-based childcare businesses. Each experience I had was always safe, but very different. Every experience was a learning opportunity for my young mind and I took what I was given. The choices my parents made about my childcare were mainly based on safety, cost, convenience and scheduling – which parallels many working-class parents. They believed that learning started with kindergarten and a quality early learning experience was not always on their mind when choosing childcare. A home environment with home-cooked meals, a bilingual setting and familiar faces was their definition of high quality. Now that I am a parent and have three young children I wonder what if we as parents knew to expect more, where home-based providers offered all the safety and cultural relevancy of a healthy environment while also providing high quality cognitive and social early childhood learning opportunities.
I have extensive experience in working with underserved and immigrant populations including Executive Director of PCA for nine years, Migrant Education Programs at UNM, President Obama appointee as Commissioner with the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, & as a National Advisor to Abriendo Puertas.
A video that describes our CEA work engaging families and communities using the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors curriculum as a tool for organizing. We are using organizing principles to build the early childhood shared services hub model with the Educadores para los Niños del Futuro/Educators for the Children of the Future network.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)
We have built a strong group of partners listed below that have contributed to the success of the PCA-ENF network to date, which include:
- Thornburg Foundation
- WK Kellogg Foundation
Early Childhood Training Experts/Curriculum:
- UNM Cariño Early Childhood
- CNM Early Childhood Program
Shared Services Consultant:
- Opportunities Exchange
Community & Early Education Resources:
- FIT Program
- Explora Children’s Museum
- NM Children Youth & Family Department
- Bernalillo County
As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)
We could use the support of experts in shared services models and business planning. We have built a strong grassroots network that has established trust, and strong peer-to-peer support. The network now needs the support necessary to turn this social and human capital into a sustainable and scalable model.
Would you like mentoring support?
If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)
We could use support from a mentor that has built and sustained a shared services model. We have built a strong network based on relationships, trust, and effective peer-to-peer support. The network now needs to codify and formalize processes to build a sustainable and scalable model.
Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?
Yes, share my contact information
[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).
Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)
Our mentor from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University provided us additional insight through our online session and direct feedback on our grant application. We have taken all this input to refine the project and build a strong application that we are excited to submit. Additionally, the mentor provided us some leads of organizations working on home-based provider strategies in other parts of the country.
What is your stage of development?
Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD
What is the stage of your proposal?
Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.