Richardson came from a big family and always wanted to run a child-care business. But realizing that dream required her to navigate complex regulations and make renovations to her home, where the business would be based. She turned to All Our Kin (AOK), a nonprofit in New Haven, Conn.
All Our Kin prepared her for certification as a child development associate, helped her apply for her license, and provided technical assistance, including one-on-one mentorship from a master teacher. AOK clients get boxes of free materials that range from smoke detectors to art supplies, and Richardson even got a low-interest loan to fence her yard.
“I don’t feel like I’m babysitting kids,” she says. “I feel like I’m an educator.” Today she is certified as an Early Head Start provider and employs an assistant to help care for five infants and toddlers.
AOK opened in reaction to welfare reform, which pushed mothers into low-paying jobs that didn’t cover the cost of child care. Founders Jessica Sager and Janna Wagner began training women to provide outstanding child care in their homes. They expanded AOK’s work when many existing child care providers in Connecticut started going under. They believed that with good training and support these businesses could be sustainable and extend high-quality care to neighborhoods where it was scarce.