Voluntary Registration (VR) is a form of regulation available to family day homes that are not required to be licensed. Becoming licensed can be overwhelming for those only wanting to care for a few children at a time. Family day homes that are VR have four or fewer children in care at any one time, not including the provider’s own child and any children who legally reside in the home. VR was created to give family day homes access to a less demanding form of regulation.
Family day homes that are not licensed or regulated are often overlooked. Because they are unregulated, providers may attempt to watch more than the legally allowed number of children or do things that create an unsafe environment. We cannot help them if we do not know about them as they fly under the radar. There are family day home providers that follow the legal standards but are unregulated, they often miss opportunities that help providers be successful.
The VR program is important and beneficial to the community. It sets regulations that providers must follow while also allowing us, ChildSavers, to monitor and inspect their homes and spaces for children to create a safe and monitored environment for children receiving care. Being VR opens the doors for providers to receive a wide array of support. They can then participate in programs such as the Child andAdult Care Food Program (CACFP), Infant and Toddler Specialist Network (ITSN), Virgina Quality Birth to Five (VQB5), Subsidy, Child Care Aware of Central Virgnia (CCA), and any state grants. ChildSavers also provides high level trainings, coaching, and technical assistance (TA) to providers.
Rachel Kurtz, CDS Program Specialist who works with VR providers says, “as a former home provider, myself, I was so thankful to be voluntarily registered as I was able to participate in most of these programs. I participated in CACFP, ITSN, Virginia Quality, and attended many of the trainings that ChildSavers offered. Had I not been voluntarily registered, I would have missed all those opportunities.”
“The VR program is vital to the community allowing ChildSavers to partner with more home providers to create a loving and safe environment for children. It is important to build these relationships with providers to help offer support. I often receive calls and emails from providers with questions and want support. This could not happen without the relationships that ChildSavers builds through the VR program.”
One of those providers who reached out is Sherry Nae. Sherry owns a Voluntarily Registered family day home called The Infant Connection. She also co-owns with her sister, Joy, a state licensed child care center called Christian Child Care Inc., both located in Chesterfield, Virginia. Sherry experienced challenges in her life which led her to working in child care, first becoming a foster parent after a devastating loss. She realized she could impact the lives of many other children that needed full-time love and care as well as a home.
She also has a unique understanding of the frustrations a young child may have when not being understood by a provider. “I had a virus when I was 23 years old and have been deaf since then. I very quickly learned to read lips and a small amount of sign language to teach and communicate with non-verbal infants and toddlers.” With a new hearing device she received in May, Sherry is learning to hear just like the infants in her care.
Sherry was first introduced to ChildSavers by the department of Chesterfield Social Services after looking to find help for families in her care. She then started taking classes in the Child Development Associate program and received her credentialing in 2013. Sherry has encouraged other young women to sign up and take CDA classes, and one just recently completed the program.
“I started foster care at 23 years old, just before the virus took my hearing. I have been caring for children as a day care provider since then as well. I am now 66 years old! But make no mistake, if you love and care for children, they keep you young!” – Sherry Nae
“ChildSavers is so diverse in their care and education of children, families and day care providers. I had many questions about how to better provide food for my families in my family day home and how to save money in doing so. ChildSavers provided much needed information and services for families at Christian Child Care inc. over the years. They gave me the needed education, the CDA Credential, to show young ladies how they can better provide for their own future, have better self-esteem, and be better prepared to care for children in care.”
The biggest challenge Sherry and her team face is staff retention. As many in any industry can relate, not having enough coverage in a workplace can lead to stress, burnout, and even being unable to take time for doctor appointments or even water breaks. “I haven’t been able to, until recently, find someone to come into my home and care for my infants and toddlers while I go to these appointments. I am so grateful for understanding parents that have been able to find temporary care, or care for their little ones themselves when I am not able to open my home.”
Still, the most rewarding part of caring for children both at state licensed and voluntarily registered is and always will be the bonds that are built between children, their families, and providers. Over the years she has maintained many friendships built while providing care for many, many families. After losing a son in 2013, long-time family friends and many of the families and their children of all ages that she had cared for over the years showed an outpour of support for Sherry. “This was a reminder that I had made an impact on their lives and they cared about me and my family. This memory is one of many that keeps me going strong every day.”
“Every child should be in a nurturing, protected and educational environment while in child care. They need us. They showed up for me at the most difficult time in my life. Child care IS building lasting relationships. That is my favorite and the most rewarding part of my job.”
To learn more about VR or if you have any questions, please contact Rachel Kurtz at firstname.lastname@example.org.