This may be the one silver lining from Covid-19.
“I love working with children and being a Provider. The one downside is that sometimes I feel isolated – like an island.”
You know what they say: if one person says it, other people are probably thinking it. So when we heard a new FCC Provider mention “feeling like an island,” we knew exactly what she meant. It’s true, Providers often work alone and lack the camaraderie and support of colleagues during the day.
Finding a community and connecting with other Providers can be a game-changer. Not only can Providers find a supportive network of friends who “get it,” but they can also share best practices, the ups and downs, and learn from one another daily.
One of the most interesting side-effects of Covid-19 has been the rapid and dramatic shift towards more online communities. With so many others now working from home, people, including Providers, have embraced tools like Zoom and Facebook for everyday interactions.
These last 6 months have been impossibly hard for Providers. Yet the only silver lining might prove to be that we’re connecting with each other more online than ever before. These communities and friendships have the potential to reshape how Providers interact with one another, deal with challenges, and hopefully bring more ECE experts into the field.
Here’s what we’re seeing and doing:
Emergency Zoom Sessions to Discuss New, Uncertain Challenges
Remember how unsettling the first weeks after Covid shut FCCs down were? Everything felt so uncertain. But by leaning on each other, Providers got through the worst of it.
The Providers in the NeighborSchools Community huddled together each week over Zoom to get guidance on how to navigate the shutdown. During the calls, they discussed whether or not to keep charging parents, how to file for unemployment, and how to apply to become an emergency care program.
When the reopening guidelines dropped, the sessions became a place to make sense of the ever-changing requirements and policies. Providers discussed the most confusing or unreasonable guidelines and had their comments sent straight to the EEC. The EEC heard Providers, thanked them for their input and, within days, the policies were either adjusted or got some much-needed clarification.
Starting then, it became evident that as our community grew, so did Providers’ collective voice. Over time, these Zoom calls evolved to something more— it became a safe place for Providers to share advice, learn, and get to know one another.
Regular Zoom Calls Where Your Voice is Heard
Now, most FCCs are back up and running (and busier than ever!), the last thing anyone wants is for Providers to fall back into isolation. Now, calls are every other week during nap time, so Providers still get the chance to have facetime with one another.
Instead of covering shutdown and reopening, the calls pivoted over to other meaningful topics for FCCs. Recently, the calls focused on the power of community, the importance of self-care, and how to tackle tough talks with parents.
Experts on these topics frequently join the calls to share their knowledge directly with Providers. And Providers get the chance to ask questions to the expert live. Providers have had face-to-face chats with Early Childhood Specialist Linda Schumacher, Pediatric Epidemiologist Katherine Hsu, and Provider-Parent Relationship Expert Gail Epstein.
Watch this clip from a recent Nap Time Zoom with Linda Schumacher on the importance of FCC Provider Communities:
Plus, newly added breakout groups during the calls give Providers the chance to foster real connections. During last week’s Zoom call, a group of 5 Providers opened up to each other. They talked about the difficult things they’re going through—like losing a family they’ve had for years because the dad lost his job or a toddler who bursts into violent tears every morning at dropoff. You know, real stuff.
So if you hate talking in front of large groups and prefer having more intimate conversations, these are for you. Breakout rooms host only about 8 Providers at a time. It’s an excellent opportunity to really get to know the other Providers in your group.
A Facebook Group Where Everyone Knows Your Name
After Zoom calls became a big hit, only having the Provider community meet weekly wasn’t going to cut it. To give Providers a 24/7 lifeline to each other, we created a Facebook group.
Providers who met each other on Zoom can pick right up where they left off on the Facebook Group. It’s become a place for Providers to vent, share hard things, and get real, actionable help. The support the Providers have for one another on the platform is heartwarming.
For example, one Provider was struggling with a child who cried all day long, from dropoff to pickup. Nothing seemed to work. She posted about her experience in the group. Within hours, over 40 Providers jumped in with compassionate guidance, plus tried and true ways to help the child.
“It makes me so happy to know I have amazing providers I can reach out to when needed,” they told us. “I was scared that I’d be alone in this, but I’ve never felt so supported.”
Find Your Community
If there is a silver lining within these last six months, it’s the opportunity to connect and learn from each other anywhere. Now, Providers don’t have to feel like they’re on an island anymore. They can get the support and community they need at the touch of a button.
Get the support you deserve—click here to join our community of 300+ FCC Providers who will have your back.