Advocating to Strengthen Rhode Island’s Licensed Family Child Care System
Nuris Ynoa opened her licensed home child care program after learning that her own child was struggling with a speech delay. She and her husband Jose wanted to create an early learning environment at home to support their son through those developmental challenges. They’re still working hard 22 years later to ensure that all children who pass through their program leave ready to thrive in school. Their current enrolled students range in age from seven months to four years old, and they provide individualized age-appropriate learning and enrichment for each child.
“There’s a stigma out there that home child care providers are babysitters, and that is not true. The truth is that we are educators,” said Nuris. “I went to school to make sure that I earned the necessary credentials to become an early childhood educator, and I attend regular trainings to improve my knowledge so I can keep offering the best learning and care for our kids,” says Nuris, who is one of the highest-rated family child care providers in Rhode Island according to the BrightStars rating system.
In addition to the perception challenges they face, Nuris and Jose are also dealing with the financial struggles facing child care providers across the country, which have only been worsened by the pandemic. Enrollment numbers dropped because parents were keeping their kids home due to the pandemic, and providers had to absorb the cost of additional cleaning supplies and PPE, as well as accounting for the time to complete the COVID-related enhanced cleaning protocols. “I’m concerned about maintaining the safety of the kids. This is something we have always focused on, but now we have to be more diligent. Kids learn by putting things in their mouth, so we have to be on top of every precaution to keep them safe,” said Nuris.
Nuris currently cares for five children, many who attend the program through the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), a program that helps low-income families by paying part of the cost of child care. “As home child care providers, we need increased CCAP payments since our business depends on CCAP rates to survive,” said Nuris. “The CCAP rates and long hours we work mean that we struggle to earn even minimum wage. We also want access to the same training and program support that child care centers receive, so we can continue to serve Rhode Island families in a high-quality, home-based program.”