I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Conference and the theme for the conference which was held in Mobile, Alabama was “Creating Connections”. A total of 674 participants were registered. The NAFCC conference is the nation’s only conference devoted to Family Child Care. As a provider, you create connections through your relationships with children, their families, and other organizations in your community that support family child care. By attending the annual conference, providers are able to create connections with other providers from around the country and with national and state leaders. You can form new friendships and meet others that share your dedication.
Throughout the conference, opportunities are available for you to share your expertise and lend your voice through conversations and round table activities. Providers are given opportunities to visit vendors and find out more about programs available to support the profession and do a little shopping too. There were 49 exhibitors in attendance. This year 3 keynotes, 11 pre-conference sessions, 111 workshops, 3 morning workouts and 7 additional featured sessions were offered specifically for family child care providers. Just imagine, having these options and knowing that they were designed for family child care providers. We Family Child Care Providers know that feeling when we attend a training and it’s geared towards a child care center; then we must bring back that information and adjust it to fit our program. With the NAFCC conference sessions, you don’t have to do that. The sessions and workshops are specifically for family child care. And you have the opportunity to pick the specific sessions that will benefit you and your program.
NAFCC also uses this time to celebrate family child care providers. Providers receive recognition for going above and beyond. Whether you are just beginning the accreditation journey, achieving it, or maintaining it, you are getting that much desired and well-earned attention. This year, accredited providers were invited to enjoy lunch, receive gifts, and network with other accredited providers from across the country. There was also a red carpet gala which recognized providers and leaders for their hard work and dedication. It was an amazing experience to walk across the stage with other accredited family child care providers and have the crowd cheering for me as my name was called. It was an emotional experience and helped validate why I do what I do.
What other providers are saying about the NAFCC Conference:
“I attended the conference because of the networking with awesome providers that I knew that would be there. I managed to take away some great ideas to use in my program” – Diane Ott
“To support and collaborate with fellow colleagues in our love and support for the children and families we serve and to learn, share and grow together” – Melody Robinson
“To be inspired by providers across the country that share my passion for family child care” – Tami O’Daniel
“I wanted to go to get refocused…took my assistant so she could be around other providers and experience some of the workshops” – Tina Wiedower
“Re-energizing my passion was why I wanted to go, which I did get. But the networking was invaluable” – Julia Bardsley
“First and foremost, it is a reward for all my hard work throughout the year. 2nd for professional development and to grow in my knowledge of best practices in the childcare industry” –Yolanda Deane
“Attending the NAFCC Conference validates me as a provider. Mobile was my 12th conference. Being around all the other smart, friendly, lovely providers makes me feel that I’m part of an exclusive club which not many people belong. We have an understanding of each other without the need to say a word. Family Child Care is such a unique business. Only another provider knows the challenges each of us face on a daily basis. I’m beginning my 40th year as a provider in September. Attending the conference is an important part of my self-care as well as professional development. Truthfully, at this point in my career it’s difficult to find workshop sessions that challenge me, but if I did nothing but network with other providers, my time and money to attend would be well spent. Seeing other parts of the country is a bonus, but it’s the validation that what I do as a provider is valuable that keep me coming back…that and the special friendships I’ve formed with providers across the nation. That’s pretty special as well” – Debbie Grace
“To meet the great people of NAFCC staff and other providers across the country. I also wanted to experience a large, multi-day conference outside of Illinois” – Jamila Wilson
“Been to one and loved the company and networking plus good trainings” – Debbie Turrentine
“Going to the National Conference we as providers can be a part of a world that only we can understand. Networking with people from all over the world. I personally have made friends with ladies that I would never have met any other way. We have formed groups where we share and help each other out on a weekly basis. We are uplifted and made to see that we are professionals and not babysitters. I love what I do and it’s wonderful to know that quality childcare is being offered all over the world” – Karan Vincent
“I attend conference because the training is 100% specific to family child care. I do not have to make changes to activities, policy, etc. because of having mixed age groups. Nowhere else can you find this type of training. The networking is also a top priority. If I need advice, I will seek out an accredited provider who I met at conference because I know they will be professional and provide a quality learning environment because of accreditation” – Mary Beauregard
The 2018 NAFCC Conference will be held June 28-July 1, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, IL. Check the NAFCC website for information about the conference. Also, don’t forget to check with your local network or child care resource and referral agency to see about local conferences or trainings that may offered in your area.
“Town Square was created as a space for provider voices to be heard. It’s a great way for providers to stay connected.” – Sandra Cole
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Written by Sandra Cole, Family Child Care Professional and Owner of Mrs. Sandy’s Family Child Care.
Image from the Town Square booth at the 2017 NAFCC Conference.
Pictured are family child care professionals Diann Gano, Melody Robinson, and Sandra Cole, and Town Square project staff Mary Quest and Angela Fowler.