May 6, 2020

Training Spanish-Speaking Child Care Providers in Rhode Island

New skills help early learning professionals provide better care.

Alba Jimenez Cuba de Castillo was a teacher in the Dominican Republic before moving her family to Providence, Rhode Island, in 2012. Once settled in her new city, she wanted to use her experience as an educator and her love for children to serve other Spanish-speaking families.

“I saw an opportunity to start my own family child care business,” Alba says.

To get licensed by the RI Department of Human Services, Alba needed to learn the Rhode Island Workforce Knowledge and Competencies for Family Child Care Educators and the Rhode Island Early Childhood Learning and Development Standards. Alba was able to access the training that she needed through the Warwick-based Center for Early Learning Professionals (the Center), which is led by EDC. After obtaining her license as a family child care educator, Alba continued building her knowledge by signing up for free professional development courses to strengthen her business practices and expand her understanding of early childhood education.

“The courses helped me understand how important it is to create an environment of learning, to give children the space to learn and develop through games and other fun things they enjoy,” Alba says. 

Thanks to the training she received in workforce skills and early childhood education, Alba opened Perlis Home Day Care in 2015. She cares for eight children, ranging in age from 9 months to 4 years old, whose parents live and work in the Providence area. Since launching her business, Alba has taken many of the Center’s courses and earned her national Child Development Associate credential. She also participates in BrightStars, Rhode Island’s Quality Rating and Improvement System for Early Care, Education and School-age Programs, and is using the training and technical assistance offered through the Center to help her advance to the next BrightStars rating level.

Since 2013, the Center has helped early learning professionals in Rhode Island develop new skills to support them in advancing their careers and to increase the quality of care. The Center works with a variety of early childhood education programs, including family child care, child care centers, and state pre‑K programs, and has provided 9,243 face-to-face trainings and 3,530 online trainings.

Many Rhode Island family child care providers, including those whose first language is Spanish, have limited formal education and limited access to technology and resources. More than 2,210 participants, such as Alba, have participated in the Center’s Spanish-language trainings.

“Currently, Rhode Island has 434 licensed family child care providers,” says EDC’s María Velásquez. “Of those, about 75 percent are not English proficient.We offer our Spanish-speaking child care educators professional development and training to [help them to] run successful high-quality home care businesses.” 

Alba continues to be a familiar face in the Center’s training courses. Her goal is to achieve a three-star BrightStars rating, which will reflect the high-quality care she provides to the city’s Spanish-speaking families. 

“I want to be a high-quality family child care provider, to have great communication with parents and families, and to offer a business that guarantees safety of the children,” she says. “My personal reward is caring for a baby that I can help grow and learn, and then go off to school.”

Editor’s Note: On March 15, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo directed all family child care businesses in the state to close amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Alba Jimenez Cuba de Castillo looks forward to re-opening her family child care business when restrictions are lifted.