By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (May 5, 2012) — Over 20 childcare providers gathered earlier this month to attend an informational session which provided an overview of the family childcare licensing process as well as details on how to become a successful family childcare business.
Most of providers attending this session were Karen, an ethnic refugee group from Burma, and there was also a Somali provider. This program primarily focuses on the Karen, Iraqi, Bhutanese communities in addition to some of the newer Somali arrivals. The target audience is refugee women who have lived in the United States less than five years.
Kaltun Abdikarani, Arabic Speaking Early Childhood Coach for Think Small saw the event as highly successful as each of the organization was able to focus on the roles and responsibilities. The program participants were able to meet program staff and understand their specific roles.
“Over 90 percent of the audience did not speak English, having a Karen interpreter interpret the different presentations took a lot of energy and it went very smoothly,” said Kaltun.
The presentation was thorough and detailed leading to many questions from audience, said Kaltun. They were very interested in having a visual of what an ideal family childcare center should look like.
Some of the participants were overwhelmed by the amount of detail required in running a successful business such as; accounting, marketing, bookkeeping, and insurance. However, they were relieved to learn program staff was there to support them as they go through the process of setting up their family childcare center.
A panel discussion where two already licensed providers were able to answer questions about their experiences and challenges as well as the personal struggles and rewards a childcare provider faces was one of the event highlights.
Mai Thao Xiong, Community Outreach Coordinator at Think Small was been working closely with the Karen community since this grants inception and is currently linking 20 Karen providers with Ramsey County Licensing so they can attend the required licensing orientation. Currently, there are only 2 Karen licensed providers in Ramsey County.
Most who provide care in these communities are FFN (Family, Friend and Neighbor). This grant provides a variety of services for participants which may include; free trainings, technical assistance, grants to support their programs and connections to other resources such as the food programs.
Due to the diverse communities in addition to materials in English some informational materials for the project have also been developed in Arabic, Dzongkha, Karen, Nepali, and Somali. Also, as there are few in these communities with expertise in the field of child care, the program relies on interpreters. To this point, Think Small has begun to develop a list of common terminology in the childcare field for some of the other languages they use such as Hmong, Spanish, Oromo, and Somali and hope to do the same with some of these other languages so as to ease confusion and create consistency.
In late 2011, Think Small was awarded a grant from the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement designed to support refugee women who had lived in the United States less than five years start a self-sustaining family childcare business in their homes. Think Small partnered with CAPI and HAP to do the work.
The grant has all three partners working closely together with each organization concentrating on areas where they have expertise. CAPI coordinates the intake process and does much of the recruitment.
Hmong American Partnerhsip is responsible for the business entrepreneurship training and assistance with the licensing process. Also, as HAP’s locations are conveniently located for the program participants, they are able to cost the bulk of the sessions.
Think Small support the providers in all aspects of the childcare process. Their work includes providing the necessary trainings required for providers to become licensed, assisting the providers with the childcare environment so providers are able to have a successful high quality childcare program. They also provide support to providers in the form of grants, technical assistance and connections to other resources.
For more information on this project contact: Kaltun Abdikarani, Think Small: 651-366-6796. If interested in enrolling in the program contact Lisa Harris, CAPI at: 612-721-0122 Ext. 673.