With a little funding help from Fairfax County, the Infant Toddler Family Day Care has the resources to train affordable, quality childcare providers to families in Northern Virginia.
The day care program recently received $65,000, the first installment of a two-year grant from the Fairfax County Community Consolidated Funding Pool. The money helps fund the training courses for childcare providers, which ultimately help each child receive the best care possible, said Ileene Hoffman, founder and director of Infant Toddler Day Care, 10560 Main St.
“Without putting money into professional development, the children will suffer,” said Hoffman. “We just couldn’t produce the workforce we’re producing without the money from the county.”
The Infant Toddler Day Care Program provides childcare in a family setting and currently has more than 120 providers in the region. The program maintains strict policies in order to ensure its providers meet the highest standards, said Hoffman. Providers must complete a series of courses through Northern Virginia Community College in order to pass the program’s training requirements. From CPR and first-aid, to professionalism and child development classes, the providers receive extensive training and education before they are considered for an open position. They must earn an infant toddler certificate from the school, and since nearly all of the providers are from foreign countries, they also must take 40 hours in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), said Wynne Busman, associate director of the program.
“The grant means we can provide these additional services to our providers,” said Busman. “We’re able to pay for books for the providers, or if they need help with toys and safety equipment or transportation.”
THE COUNTY'S GRANT is appreciated so much because it pays for these essential program needs, said Hoffman. The program prides itself on its requirements, said Hoffman, because so many childcare providers don’t meet basic education standards. Infant Toddler providers receive about 100 hours of training before they take on the job, and that number is high, said Hoffman. She said it’s sad when compared to the 1,500 hours of training required to get a cosmetology license in many states. And that’s just for hair and make-up stylists.
“We’re talking about children,” said Hoffman. “We have to create a workforce that really gives these children the skills and knowledge they need.”
Since providers care for children from their own homes, Infant Toddler Day Care inspects each home twice before a child ever steps foot inside. They do fire and safety inspections, while background checks and other evaluations are performed. It can take up to six months to get a provider eligible for the opening list, said Busman, which is exactly why the program boasts of its great safety and satisfaction record.
Once providers have children in their homes, the program performs random inspections monthly to make sure the standards continue to be met. In addition to providing families with a reliable daycare service, Busman said the program is also proud of its role in creating business-savvy women who might have otherwise had a difficult time finding reliable work in this country.
“It’s good for income,” said Khatol Mohamadi, a provider from Afghanistan. “It helps me to stay with my kids at home. It’s a good business.”
Mohamadi heard about the program from a friend more than six years ago. She wanted to stay at home with her children since they were young, and thought it sounded like a great opportunity. Mohamadi is currently working on a degree in child development at Northern Virginia Community College so she can expand her credentials as a childcare provider and specialist.
The income is another reason Hoffman said the program is so popular among working women. Stay-at-home moms, also a significant majority of the program’s providers, can take on the responsibility of a couple extra children and pick up a paycheck in the process. The work is also considered a home business, which decreases taxable income and lowers work-related expenses such as gasoline and childcare, said Hoffman.
“It gives them an opportunity to stay at home to raise their children while their raising other children along with them,” said Hoffman. “It’s a win-win situation.”