All Our Kin, Inc., is a nationally-recognized, Connecticut-based
nonprofit organization that trains, supports, and sustains community child care
providers in order to ensure that children and families have the foundation
they need to succeed in school and in life.
Our vision: all children, regardless of where they live, their racial or ethnic background, or how much money their parents earn, will begin their lives with all the advantages, all the tools, and all the experiences that we, as a society, are capable of giving them.
By equipping providers with skills and resources to raise the quality of care in their home-based programs, All Our Kin makes it possible for children to receive the excellent foundational early learning experiences they need and deserve. We find the caregivers who serve our youngest and most vulnerable children: women in low-income communities who are committed to giving children high-quality learning experiences. Through All Our Kin's programs, family child care providers get the resources, training and support that they need; these providers then make it possible for parents to succeed, providing reliable, consistent care that is affordable, accessible, neighborhood-based, culturally diverse, and flexible for parents working nontraditional hours.
is an acute shortage of quality child care for infants and toddlers in Connecticut—and,
indeed, throughout the nation—especially for low-income families. Connecticut’s
families have a need for almost 160,000 child care slots, but licensed centers
can only accommodate approximately 72,000 children, and licensed family child cares
can provide space for fewer than 17,000 children.
In these conditions of scarcity, family child care providers—both licensed and unlicensed—play a crucial role as the teachers of our youngest and most vulnerable children. The majority of infants and toddlers are cared for in family child care settings, and children with socioeconomic risk factors are the most likely to be in family child care arrangements.
Despite the critical role these programs play, the majority of family child care programs are under-resourced and under-equipped. Working in their homes, caring for children ten to twelve hours a day, providers are isolated from other educators and from opportunities for education and advocacy. As a result, nationwide, only 9% of family child care programs provide quality learning experiences for children.
All Our Kin is the only organization in Connecticut—and one of a handful in the country—to address both workforce development and child care in one single swoop. Our organization began as a response to the ramifications of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 on low-income families, especially single mothers of very young children who struggled to find both decent work and affordable high-quality child care in their communities. All Our Kin's response to these negative outcomes for families was to invest in the community's women, giving them the resources and training to open their own community-based family child care programs.
All Our Kin increases the quality of family child care. Research shows that raising the quality of child care can increase children’s school readiness by 50%. Through All Our Kin's child development classes, workshops, and hands-on educational program visits, family child care providers gain a greater knowledge of child development, learn new strategies for supporting children and families, and become part of a wider professional community. Internal evaluations find that after taking part in All Our Kin’s program and services, 97% of family child care programs demonstrate significant increases in quality.
All Our Kin makes it possible for parents to enter the workforce. Child care is a major barrier to employment for parents. A recent study from the University of Connecticut’s Center for Economic Analysis finds that each provider licensed by All Our Kin enables between 4 and 5 parents to enter the workforce.
All Our Kin increases provider revenue and helps providers build better lives for their own families. The UCONN Center for Economic Analysis found that nearly 60% of participants in the Tool Kit Licensing Program reported earning at least $5,000 more the first year after licensure, and over 45% reported earning at least $10,000 more in the second year.
Investing in All Our Kin has significant macroeconomic benefits. According to the UCONN Center for Economic Analysis, every $1 spent by All Our Kin in the Tool Kit Licensing Program returns approximately $15-20 to society in terms of increased gross regional product (GRP).
1. Funding for direct services in greater New Haven. Although All Our Kin's model is gaining attention across the state, it continues to be a challenge for the organization to fund its high-touch services to family child care providers in greater New Haven.
2. Funding for key staff. All Our Kin requires funding to attract and retain the organization's most valuable asset: highly-qualified, culturally sensitive staff deeply knowledgeable about both child development and adult learning.
3. High-quality materials, equipment and supplies for family child care programs.
4. Improved technology for All Our Kin. All Our Kin would benefit enormously from updated technology, both hardware and software. This would make it possible for All Our Kin to track results more effectively and for staff in the field to record and document their work more efficiently.
5. Improved technology for All Our Kin's family child care providers. With increased access to and understanding of computers, internet, etc., All Our Kin's family child care providers could communicate better with All Our Kin, with each other, and with the broader early childhood community, and their businesses would run more effectively as well.
All Our Kin was founded on the belief that all children deserve access to high-quality early learning opportunities. We began the program because we saw parents forced to choose between their families’ economic survival and their children’s safe, healthy development. These parents were struggling to enter the workforce without any decent child care options available to them. As we worked with these parents in our child care collaborative, training them to become early childhood educators themselves, we came to see that our commitment to educational equity required us to expand our mission to encompass all providers struggling to care for low-income children. Today, we serve over 300 caregivers, who in turn are providing higher-quality care to over 1,500 children in our community.--Jessica Sager and Janna Wagner
All Our Kin serves a diverse group of low-income parents and providers in New Haven and surrounding towns; increasingly, we are becoming a regional presence in New Haven county. In addition, we have expanded to Bridgeport, which is, like New Haven, a high-poverty city in a wealthy state. Increasingly, communities and agencies throughout Connecticut seek to learn from and build on All Our Kin’s best practices.
Family, friend and neighbor caregivers
provide much of the daily child care to families in low-income neighborhoods. Through
the Tool Kit Licensing Program, a collaboration with the Connecticut Children’s
Museum, All Our Kin provides materials, mentorship and support to help these unlicensed
caregivers meet health and safety standards, fulfill state licensing
requirements, and become part of a professional community of child care
providers. When a child care provider becomes licensed by the state, we know
that the program meets health and safety standards and operates under state
supervision. The result: more children spend the day in safe, healthy settings.
Licensing is also transformative for providers. Their earnings increase; they
gain pride and professionalism; and they are able to serve more children, and
serve them better, with the equipment and training they need to provide safe,
educational child care.
When a child care provider becomes
licensed by the state, we know that the program meets health, safety, and
quality standards. As a result, more children spend the day in safe, healthy
settings, and more parents can go to work confident in the knowledge that their
children are well-cared for. The licensing process is also transformative for
providers, with enormous impacts on their earning potential, their pride and
professionalism, and their capacity to serve the community. To date, 294
providers, with the capacity to serve over 1,700 children, have become licensed
through the program.
As Connecticut Voices for Children reports, "projects like these which target family child care providers reach a segment of the population who are particularly in need of workforce development, and who are particularly hard to reach: mainly women with low levels of education, many of whom are immigrants and/or for whom English is a second language."
Through the Tool
Kit Licensing Program, All Our Kin increases the number and quality of child
care choices available to working parents throughout the region, while ensuring
that young children have high-quality early learning experiences. Between 2000 and 2007, Connecticut lost nearly 32% of
its family child care programs. In New Haven, thanks to All Our Kin’s efforts,
the number of licensed family child care programs increased by nearly 27%
during the same period. The result: more available, affordable quality choices
for children and families.
Currently, All Our Kin tracks provider
licensing and regional/statewide trends in licensure, through the Department of
Public Health; provider economic and emotional well-being, through surveys and
job stress inventory tools; and professional commitment, through participation
in training and professional organizations after graduation. In addition, the
University of Connecticut’s Center for Economic Analysis recently conducted an
analysis of the long-term economic effects of the Tool Kit Program on
providers, parents, children and communities. Key results of that study can be
The Family Child Care Network offers educational mentorship, professional development, advocacy and leadership opportunities, and a network of relationships with other family child care providers. The Network is a high-touch program built on best practices in early childhood consultation and teacher mentoring. A hallmark of the network is the program visit, in which early childhood consultants visit family child cares to lead model lessons, demonstrate new strategies, and reflect with providers on their work. Consultants bring materials, professional articles, and curriculum ideas, and offer suggestions to enhance children's learning. Providers in the Network also come together for monthly meetings, workshops and trainings, including Child Development Associate training, and an annual professional development conference. All Our Kin offers zero-interest loans and grants, financial management and education training, and marketing and referral opportunities. All services are bilingual.
Through All Our Kin's child development classes, workshops, and hands-on educational program visits, family child care providers gain a greater knowledge of child development, and learn new strategies for supporting children and families. Internal evaluations find that after taking part in All Our Kin’s program and services, 97% of family child care programs demonstrate significant increases in quality.
A copious body of research supports the link between high-quality early childhood education and positive educational and social outcomes for children: replacing a low-quality provider with a high-quality one increases a preschooler’s school readiness by 50 percent. The implications of our work are clear: by improving the quality of care in family child care programs, All Our Kin improves educational outcomes and life chances for children.
All Our Kin collects data on the ways in which the Network influences provider practice and the quality of family child care settings. Tools include pre- and post-tests of provider knowledge, observational assessments using tools such as the Family Child Care Environmental Rating Scale and the Arnett Child Caregiver Interaction Scale, provider surveys and questionnaires, and data collection on factors such as educational attainment that are known to influence child outcomes.
Opportunities Exchange and Sussman Associates recently conducted a retrospective evaluation of All Our Kin’s impact on New Haven, focusing on our impact on providers, families and communities. The evaluation was very positive. An excerpt:
“Our key finding is that All Our Kin has been able to help increase the number of family child care providers in New Haven, their income, and their quality."
All Our Kin’s Early Head Start program provides free, quality child care for eligible infants and toddlers in family child care programs in New Haven. These programs are neighborhood-based, culturally diverse, and offer flexible, full-day programming. Through Early Head Start, family child care providers are paid for the care that they offer, at rates that are higher, and fairer, than those currently available through the state’s child care subsidy program. They also receive materials, supplies, and quality enhancement funds. All Our Kin provides individualized professional development plans, program visits, mentoring, training, and support. All Our Kin also provides comprehensive services to children and families in the EHS program, including access to physical, mental, and oral health services; connections to housing, food, and income supports; and opportunities to build community and develop leadership skills.
All Our Kin directly increases, deepens and enriches the number of resources available to the most vulnerable families and facilitates their access to those resources. Our family advocate counsels parents and connects them to a range of vital community resources; our nurse consultant works with providers and parents to support the physical and mental health of the infants and toddlers in their care; and our partnerships with agencies across New Haven ensure that the vulnerable children our providers serve have access to services throughout the community. By connecting with others in similar situations, parents learn from one another's experiences, share success and provide support through difficulties. Increased knowledge and awareness of their children's developmental benchmarks, needs and supports empowers parents to maximize, sustain and further the work of our talented family child care providers and increase their self-confidence in advocating on behalf of their children.
Statewide training and technical assistance: All Our Kin provides training and technical assistance to agencies, networks, and associations working to improve the quality and sustainability of family child care in their communities. In 2011 and 2012, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Social Services, All Our Kin trained thirty-one communities in our coaching and consultation methods, using the Infant Toddler Early Learning Guidelines (ELG) as a tool for building capacity and quality in family child care programs. All Our Kin conducted a new series of ELG trainings in Spanish in fall 2013.
Through our statewide training and technical assistance efforts, All Our Kin builds capacity on two levels: family child care providers in areas not previously served by All Our Kin gain greater knowledge of child development and build skills in working with children, while agencies in those areas learn the fundamentals of All Our Kin’s methods and begin to explore the possibility of building their own family child care networks.
All Our Kin has been furthering the design of a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation system to determine breadth and depth of programs’ effects in several key areas: family child care providers’ knowledge, practice and attitudes; family child care providers’ mental, physical and economic well-being; children’s health and well-being (including mental health); children’s social-emotional development and self-regulation; parents’ income; job retention; stress levels; families’ access to supportive services. We are working with two leading experts—Toni Porter of the Bank Street College of Education and Juliet Bromer of the Erikson Institute—to conduct a scientific, rigorously validated assessment of our impact.
In addition, we have developed a customized Salesforce database that gives us accurate, real-time data. This data system enables us to evaluate and refine program strategies, steps that are particularly essential as we replicate our work in new communities with different needs.
A recent external evaluation of All Our Kin’s impact found evidence of All Our Kin’s impact on policy reflected in interviews with various community stakeholders:
“All Our Kin has been a great driving force for the issue of family child care and infant-toddler care. They have been very involved with the QRIS program, and making sure that the family child providers are included in this system.”
All Our Kin has a proven track record of success in raising the quality and accessibility of child care in low-income communities. We find the caregivers who serve our youngest and most vulnerable children: women in low-income communities who are committed to giving children high-quality learning experiences. We invest in these caregivers, helping them become skilled early childhood educators, and creating sustainable programs that will serve families for years to come. The model is win-win-win: child care providers build better lives for themselves and their own families; parents can succeed in the workforce, knowing that their children are well cared for; and most important, children have equality of opportunity, and the chance to succeed. All Our Kin increases the supply of quality child care in the community, increases provider revenue, increases the quality of family child care, helps parents enter into the workforce, and is a great economic investment. For more details on the impact of our work, please see the descriptions of our Tool Kit Program and our Family Child Care Network.
All Our Kin works closely with a range of local, state, and
national organizations. Within Connecticut, our agency has become a model and
resource for others seeking to build family child care capacity and quality. At
the national level, we are one of a handful of organizations successfully
working with family child care programs, and we share strategies, learn from
each other, and work together whenever possible.
In each community that we serve, we build relationships with a wide range of agencies, leveraging as many opportunities and resources as we can. Key partners in each community that we serve include the School Readiness Councils; the schools, including school districts and charter schools; the Family Resource Centers; the libraries; the museums; community colleges; agencies offering resources for families and programs, such as Read to Grow, the Diaper Bank, and local food pantries; agencies serving immigrants and refugees; job training programs; and faith-based organizations.
All Our Kin's Board is composed of 10 voting members and two nonvoting members (representatives from the family child care network); in addition, we have a four-member Advisory Board. The Board convenes four times a year, with an average attendance percentage of 70 percent. Board committees include Development, Budget and Finance, Program and Personnel, Financial/Audit and Strategic Growth. Although All Our Kin’s executive director is not a voting member of the Board, the organization’s directors are present at all meetings and their input is greatly valued by the Board. The Board conducts an annual performance review of the executive director and conducts a quarterly review of All Our Kin’s financial reports. The Board annually reviews progress towards benchmarks aligned with All Our Kin's growth plan. The Board: articulates values and mission, and sets standards, controls, and policies; ensures that the organization is relevant to the community through processes that monitor the external environment and define vision, direction, and strategy; defines and monitors key areas of performance compared to short- and long-range strategy, assesses results, and ensures that steps are taken for continuous quality improvement; ensures that the financial structure is adequate for current priorities, long-range strategy, and sustainability; ensures that adequate risk management is in place; determines eligibility for Board membership, assures proper recruitment of candidates, elects members and officers, and assures proper orientation and monitoring of Board members; defines and enforces parameters of the Board's work including its committees and the role and performance of the individual Board member; appraises the performance of the executive director and sets compensation; ensures compliance with relevant laws and regulations affecting the organization; asks strategic questions and provides candid advice and perspective.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
In years, such as 2013, in which revenue exceeds expenses, the remainder goes towards All Our Kin's cash reserves. Cash reserves protect against fluctuations in cash flow and may also be used to meet unanticipated program needs, create new initiatives or take advantage of new opportunities. Note that many charity watchdog groups and accounting firms recommend that nonprofits have cash reserves sufficient to cover at least three months' operating costs.
Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.
A strong economy begins with a community that supports its people. When you support workforce training, financial literacy and public transportation, you enable individuals and families to work where they live, increasing their chances of economic success.
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