Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) has expanded its youth and family programming, thanks to a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship, according to a press release. The grant, which was received in the fall, is intended to support and strengthen the Island’s Family Child Care programs.
Part of the grant funds went to hiring Joanne Lambert to fill the new role of family childcare network coordinator. Lambert has a degree in human development from Lesley University, Child Development Association certification, and 24 years of experience as a Department of Early Education and Care licensed family childcare provider.
“It is rewarding but hard work: You are responsible to provide a safe, nurturing, enriching environment for young children and work closely with their families, while you are running your own small business, maintaining strict licensing guidelines, keeping up your professional development with continuing education classes,” Lambert said in the release. “And these days, struggling with COVID protocols. There is not a lot of support, and providers can feel isolated and unimportant.”
A community needs assessment conducted by MVCS in 2018 showed that access to high-quality, affordable childcare was a significant concern among Island parents and caregivers, particularly for infants and toddlers, the release states.
Additionally, many Island preschool programs have limited spaces for infants and toddlers, and often have extensive wait lists for service. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional obstacles and expenses for childcare providers,” according to the release.
Heather Quinn, program director of early childhood programs at MVCS, said in the release that the childcare crisis affects everyone in the community, and the pandemic has exacerbated that crisis here on-Island.
“The pandemic has highlighted that early education and care programs play a foundational role in the infrastructure of our Island and the success of our economy,” Quinn said in the release. “The lack of access to high-quality childcare has a destabilizing effect on families, negatively impacting their finances, health, and well-being.”
She noted that family childcare providers need support in order to continue to grow and thrive, and the Vineyard community should be looking at ways to attract new providers in order to effectively meet the needs of working families.
For more information about the Family Child Care Network, or to learn more about becoming a family childcare provider, Lambert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 508-560-7640.