There’s no place like home: family home child care in King County

By MyKa’La Alexander, Ilma Vikovic, and Julianne Korn, Healthy Eating and Active Living Interns

The walls of Anaji Aman’s home are lined floor to ceiling with colorful posters depicting numbers, shapes, fruits and veggies, maps, animals, and the months of the year, as well as children’s artwork. There are books in many different languages and an area rug covering her whole living room floor with colors and objects.

In King County, over 1,200 childcare providers like Anaji and those featured in the video below open up their homes to children of all backgrounds and cultures. A family home child care provider is a business owner who conducts child care out of their home. These providers go above and beyond to treat the children like they are part of their family. They wear many hats beyond “child care provider,” including “chef,” “social resource director,” “small business owner,” “educator,” and “family member.”

Every child in King County deserves to grow up healthy, which includes having access to child care that supports their growth and development. Our partners Child Care Resources, Horn of Africa Services, and the City of Seattle Human Services Department work with family home child care providers to serve healthier foods, increase physical activity, and reduce screen time. Below are the stories of three women who are successfully changing the face of family home child care King County. They each excel in a different aspect of family home child care and offer inspiration and support for other providers in their communities.

Family style eating

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In family style eating, children develop fine motor skills by serving themselves.

Anaji Aman is the owner and primary care provider for Isha Allah daycare, which she runs out of her home. She offers child care five days per week from 6:00 am – 8:00 pm. Some children spend all ten hours with Anaji each day of the week—she welcomes them with open arms into a loving home filled with many learning opportunities that prepare them for kindergarten. Her involvement and concern with the children’s parents is like they are her own family, and she will often go above and beyond to provide them with additional resources to create a safe home for their children.

At mealtime, children in Anaji’s daycare serve food onto their own plates, have conversations about the foods they are eating, what they like and dislike, and are encouraged to practice polite table manners. This style of eating—called family style eating—helps develop fine motor skills and the habit of feeding themselves and understanding what is on their plate.

Growing produce

Mumina Hassan, a dedicated family home child care provider, brings her experience of working with children in Africa to her own home in SeaTac, WA, where she teaches healthy eating practices to children of working families primarily of African descent.

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Mumina Hassan uses her own garden to teach children the importance of a healthy diet. Photo credit: Child Care Resources.

She teaches children about the importance of eating a healthy diet every day by incorporating lesson plans with the use of her own garden. They learn how to name produce, understand the ways in which it grows, learn about fruit colors and shapes and the many ways in which they can use vegetables and fruits in meals.

Serving healthier foods

Gail Eshom started her daycare to help family members and people around her neighborhood. Working with kids is a part of her life: she is doing what she loves and she wouldn’t change what she is doing. Open six days a week from 6:30am to 6:30pm, Gail serves on average six to eight kids.

With guidance from our partners on Early Achievers standards and the Let’s Move Checklist, Gail has made changes to what the kids eat. They are taking on healthy eating habits. With every meal, Gail serves fruits and vegetables instead of unhealthy foods. With Gail’s daycare being open so late and providing overnight care, she makes sure that the kids have access to healthy food options throughout the day.

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Interns from UW Bothell’s Health Studies Major worked with Public Health’s Healthy Eating & Active Living Unit to gather these stories as part of a project to improve family home childcare. This internship brings undergraduate interns to Public Health for a quarter to learn about public health and gain professional skills.

Originally posted on January 13, 2017