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New Solano Childcare Bootcamp Helps Industry Rebound

Jan 24, 2024 01:42PM ● By Napa-Solano Small Business Development Center News Release

A new class of childcare providers celebrates their completion of one of the Childcare Entrepreneurship Bootcamps. Photo courtesy of Napa-Solano Small Business Development Center

DIXON, CA (MPG) - It’s been almost four years since the COVID-19 pandemic decimated Solano County’s childcare industry, forcing almost half of the region’s providers to close their doors.

Today, the industry has rebounded in Solano County, with nearly as many providers in operation as there were pre-pandemic and dozens more in the process of obtaining state licensing. There is still a great need for childcare providers, but the current recovery trend is promising.

Much of the growth has occurred in recent months, thanks to the new Childcare Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, a free 25-hour training for new childcare providers offered through a partnership with the Workforce Development Board of Solano County and Solano Family and Children Services.

This in-person training, offered to each cohort over a three-month period, includes a combination of classroom learning, group activities, and panel discussions. Participants learn childcare best business practices, marketing for their business, infant, and toddler development, and receive access to provider resources and a business start-up kit.

“We also work hand in hand with each individual as they go through the process of becoming a licensed childcare provider,” said Cinda-Rae Clemente, Resource and Referral Program Manager for Solano Family and Children’s Services. “We help them with their application for licensing and we help them prepare for their home visits, so they are ready for Community Care licensing to come out and do their inspections.”

By the end of the bootcamp, participants obtain a certificate of completion and are ready to submit all necessary licensing documentation to Community Care. Ideally, they would be licensed to care for children in just a few months.

Four cohorts, each with 10 to 12 participants, are being funded through Solano County American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars. The first three were in 2023 with a fourth planned in 2024.

The Spanish cohort in particular has been especially well attended, and Clemente said there are additional Spanish-speaking providers interested in future programs.

“We are lacking in providers in general, but we are really lacking in providers who can take Spanish speaking families” she said. “We’ve tried to recruit for years, and this program has been the first time we’ve been able to find this many Spanish-speaking individuals who can provide these services to our families.”

Joselyn Jones went through the first cohort in the fall and is now fully licensed by the state. In just the last couple months, she has set up a website for her childcare and is in the process of changing her business structure to a LLC.

“Soon, I will be working with a child needing extra assistance, so I am grateful for the training I received for inclusion/special needs,” she said. “I would not have been able to purchase many of the items we have on my own as a new provider and business owner so I am forever grateful for all the help provided from the trainings, workshops, funds, toys, and just being available to answer my questions.”

Another participant, Elizabeth Caratachea, is interested in taking additional classes in the future. “Not only will the knowledge help me, but it will also benefit the children who are under our care,” she said.

The Workforce Development Board of Solano County has been a major champion of the childcare cohorts. As the number of providers decreased during the pandemic, the lack of childcare became a major barrier for individuals who wanted to return to the workforce.

“Having access to stable childcare is a vital component for parents who want to enter the workforce or maintain their current employment,” said Heather Henry, Executive Director of the Workforce Development Board of Solano County. “The significant decrease of family childcare providers during the COVID pandemic catalyzed the need for this initiative that blends workforce development and entrepreneurship.”

For Solano WDB, partnering with Solano Family and Children Services was an obvious choice given the no-cost services the organization already offers childcare providers and parents. In addition, the Solano-Napa Small Business Development Center provides one-on-one business advising for all participants.

One trend that Clemente has seen in the bootcamps is that many of the participants are people who were not expecting to be childcare providers four years ago. Many do not have a childcare background. Some were in the ‘corporate world’ four years ago, she said, or were teachers at schools.

“For many of them, it’s just been the perfect time to make that career change because they were already at home with their children,” she said. “Others are looking for a new opportunity, and this is a way for them to have their own business.”

Solano Family and Children Services welcomes new childcare providers in their program. To learn more about opening a family childcare business, contact the organization at (707) 863-3950 ext. 752.

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