New grant offers hope for child care crisis on Island
Oak Bluffs, MA. (February 26, 2021) ‐ MV Community Services (MVCS) has expanded their Youth and Family programming thanks to a grant from MV Vision Fellowship intended to support and strengthen the Island’s Family Child Care programs. Responding to the critical need for additional Child Care options in our community, MVCS applied for and received the grant this past fall, hiring Joanne Lambert to fill the new role of Family Child Care (FCC) Network Coordinator. Joanne has a degree in Human Development from Lesley University, the national CDA certification and 24 years of experience as an EEC Licensed Family Child Care Provider.
“As someone with a career as a Family Child Care Provider for over 20 years, I know firsthand the challenges,” said Joanne Lambert, Family Child Care Network Coordinator. “It is rewarding but hard work: you are responsible to provide a safe, nurturing, enriching environment for young children and work closely with their families, while you are running your own small business, maintaining strict licensing guidelines, keeping up your professional development with continuing education classes – and these days, struggling with COVID protocols. There is not a lot of support, and Providers can feel isolated & unimportant.”
A Community Needs Assessment conducted by MVCS in 2018 revealed that access to high quality, affordable Child Care was a significant concern among Island parents and caregivers, particularly for infants and toddlers. Island center-based Preschool programs have limited spaces for infants and toddlers and run at capacity with waiting lists most of the time. The Family Child Care options have been decreasing in recent years due to Providers retiring or leaving the field. The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional obstacles and expenses for Child Care Providers.
“The Child Care crisis affects everyone in the community,” said Heather Quinn, Program Director of Early Childhood Programs at MVCS. “The pandemic has highlighted that early education and care programs play a foundational role in the infrastructure of our island and the success of our economy. The lack of access to high quality child care has a destabilizing effect on families, negatively impacting their finances, health and well-being. Family Child Care Providers are an integral part of our Child Care system and it’s essential they receive the support needed to continue to grow and thrive. It is also important that we attract new Providers so that we can effectively meet the needs of working families in our community. ”
The goal of this MV Vision Fellowship grant (one of many awarded across Martha’s Vineyard to strengthen the sustainability of the Island community) is to provide support for existing licensed Family Child Care programs and to encourage more programs to open. As Family Child Care Network Coordinator, Ms. Lambert facilitates monthly meetings of the FCC Network, which offers Providers a place to collaborate as professionals, share ideas and problem solve. Her role includes finding needed resources for Family Child Care programs, such as curriculum supplies and professional development opportunities, as well as assisting with licensing issues and day-to-day challenges. Ms. Lambert also works with people interested in becoming Family Child Care Providers and/or accelerating their career path in Early Childhood Education.
For more information about the Family Child Care Network or to learn more about becoming a Family Child Care Provider, Joanne can be reached at email@example.com or 508.560.7640.
# # #
About MV Community Services:
We are clinicians and social workers, psychiatrists, counselors, case workers, teachers and volunteers. Embracing community in collaboration with police and primary care physicians, the hospital and Island schools. People who share our belief in the worth and dignity of all. Every day we commit our unique experience, expertise and compassion to help our entire community be as vibrant, strong and healthy as it can be. When together we answer the call our community thrives. Learn more at www.mvcommunityservices.org