Arkansas Family Child Care Association (AFCCA) – Statewide
Current President: Carol Crockett firstname.lastname@example.org
Past president: Debra Combs
Vice President of Communications Rita Neve
Secretary: Gwen Elliott
Treasurer: Amy Ramey
Member at Large: Manika Ray
If you would like to interact with other members of our group, you can join our private Facebook group. Please email our president to be added!
In March 2008 a group of family child care providers met together in Little Rock to bring to reality the vision founder Debbie Mays (Bright Beginnings, Siloam Springs) had of a state-wide association to bring support, education, and unity to the family child care providers of our state. Previously, FCC providers did not have a “voice” in the state. Often FCC providers were isolated and not in touch with one another. The association born that day is the Arkansas Family Child Care Association (AFCCA). Our motto “Family Child Care -Where loving and learning begins” reflects our belief that family child care is a vital unique part of the early education and care profession.
The first board of AFCCA traveled across the state seeking to reach FCC providers who were without support, often unaware or unable to get to trainings. That first board established a Child Development Associates scholarship to encourage FCC providers to become more professional and more educated. The board worked to contact every FCC licensed provider in the state of Arkansas.
Over the years AFCCA has maintained a voice on the Early Childhood Commission, worked in collaboration with Arkansas State University’s Childhood Services Dept. and with the Arkansas Early Childhood Association (AECA). In 2020 AFCCA became an affiliate of AECA. AECA began providing an FCC “track” at the state conferences on Saturday to give FCC providers who could not close their programs to attend state conference during the week the opportunity to participate in the state conference and to receive training relevant to FCC programs.
AFCCA has maintained a strong commitment to encouraging family child care providers to strive for more education and professionalism. In 2021 in collaboration with the Family Child Care Network, a cohort of FCC programs was formed to work together towards National Accreditation with the National Family Child Care Association. We currently have eleven FCC programs in our state who are nationally accredited. A second cohort is currently being formed. There are FCC providers working toward their degrees through the TEACH initiative. We have offered online book studies and have another book study scheduled for this fall.
AFCCA has continued to focus on our values. Our mission statement says:
To unite family childcare homes in Arkansas in providing quality early childhood care and education to the children in our state; to develop and foster relationships and partnerships with their families; to provide mentorship and trainings to family childcare home providers; to celebrate the uniqueness of each family childcare home; and to be a voice in early childhood care and education legislation in the cities, counties, districts, and that state of Arkansas.
In accordance with that mission statement AFCCA maintains the Arkansas Family Child Care Facebook group. When COVID began and the world seemed upside down, many centers were forced to close their doors, FCC homes stayed open despite risk to their families and themselves. Our AFCCA Facebook group became vital in reaching out and supporting FCC providers with information from DHS, CDC, sharing our own experiences and information as we weathered the storm together. COVID brought more FCC providers to our group page and welded a strong bond as we helped one another and the families and children we serve.
AFCCA has sponsored several statewide conferences including in 2021 AFCCA sponsored a state-wide conference via zoom. This year we were able to meet in person. Over 60 FCC providers gathered together to network, learn from speakers, and get to know the faces we had only seen via zoom! We are currently planning for a great conference for 2023.
During our 2022 conference we had speakers ranging from Thomas Sheppard giving us information concerning the Sustainability Grants, to a story basket presentation. We had information presented about autism, literacy and other subjects.
Our work continues. Our mission statement did not limit our scope to only those providers who are licensed. We began reaching out and inviting those who are not regulated or licensed (as long as they were within the law) to our Facebook group and to conference. We want to support them in providing the best possible care to the children they care for, and also give them opportunities to learn about the advantages of being regulated or licensed.
Through AFCCA we share ideas, curriculum, materials, stories of success and stories when things did not go as well as we planned. We reach out and hold up those who are struggling and celebrate with those who have success. We want to keep family child care strong.