The purpose of the Family Child Care Partnerships (FCCP) project is to assist family child care providers to provide high quality child care services, with a focus on moving them toward national accreditation standards. By fulfilling this purpose, it is the vision of FCCP to ensure that family child care providers develop and apply their knowledge, and become aware of and utilize available supports, in ways that foster the healthy growth and development of the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in their care.

Activities of FCCP designed for this purpose include the following:

• Individualized, in-home training provided by a knowledgeable mentor familiar with the the special needs of family child care providers.

• Distribution of equipment grants to judiciously assist providers in meeting accreditation standards.
Assistance with professional certification or accreditation procedures, including financial assistance to reduce the economic pressures that achieving quality child care can impose.

• Facilitation of connections between providers and other family child care-related agencies and organizations, including professional development networks and opportunities that serve to educate, recognize, and reward providers with regard to implementing best practices and professionalization efforts.

• Mentor-facilitated group training meetings designed to support additional educational needs, to encourage provider networking, and to foster provider professionalization.

The FCCP program provides services to licensed family home childcare providers across the state of Alabama. A major reason to target Alabama’s family child care providers as a population is because large segments of this audience are hard to reach. The “hard-to-reach” providers share several common characteristics. First, because the family child care provider is the owner as well as the primary (if not the only) person providing care, a provider may frequently work more than 60 hours per week. Second, an estimated 70% of providers live outside of the state’s major population centers–many in rural townships or communities, and some in fairly isolated settings. This presents barriers to transportation and frequency of contact with other providers. Third, family child care workers are some of the lowest paid workers in our economy and find it challenging to consider doing “more” than they already do.

As a result of these characteristics, family childcare providers often report difficulty in attending trainings and professional development courses held at local and regional childcare training agencies or community colleges. Travel distance to training sites, times the trainings are offered (during “normal” business hours or early in the evening), and/or expenses involved (e.g., for travel, substitute care, course/training fees) can unintentionally keep providers from attending. FCCP was designed to address these barriers.