Family child care providers are now considered essential personnel! We’ve known that all along, but the rest of the world has woken up to that fact. As we move through the various phases of reopening, across the country, cities, counties, and states will be working hard to help ensure all forms of child care is available. I expect a resurgence in the interest in family child care! In my state of Virginia, a new task force has been formed to …develop an assertive strategic plan with recommendations for structural shifts and improved policies and practices to stabilize and strengthen Virginia’s child care industry – considered essential personnel per COVID-19 directives… I expect around the country similar initiatives will be starting up over the next year or two as communities grapple with their newfound appreciation for child care. You need to be aware of these initiatives so you can be at the table when plans about child care are being made. Think about it. You wouldn’t find a task force to improve access to healthcare without doctors or hospital executives at the table. You wouldn’t find a task force to get healthy foods into low-income neighborhoods without grocers or possibly farmers at that table. If anyone is going to discuss child care, FCC needs to be at the table! I know some FCC association leaders can be intimidated by “task forces” where everyone is a CEO of this or the president of that. Please remember, when it comes to the business of family child care, YOU are the experts in the room! But you must take the initiative*. Don’t assume that these groups know you exist, what your association is called, what expertise you can offer, how many small businesses you represent, or even how to get in touch with you. You need to take the lead and reach out. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce, your United Way, your City/County Council. Let them know you exist, and if they want to help support child care, you’re ready to help them. Once you do get the invite, don’t be shy in letting them know you are a small business person, AND in your business, you can’t just join a meeting anytime. Let them know when naptime is, or suggest evening or weekend meetings. I’ve never met a senior executive that shutdown at 5:00 or didn’t work at least partially through a weekend. So don’t hesitate to ask them to accommodate your schedule. In those meetings, remember, no one knows more about the joys and challenges of running a family child care business than you. So you are the BEST person to talk about the real-world consequences of any strategies that task forces come up with. The world needs you now more than ever, so stand up, speak up! Want to talk about it? Give me a shout. *I realize some associations have built great relationships with the influencer organizations in their community or state. Kudos to you!