Family childcare providers were hit particularly hard when the pandemic shut down San Diego in March 2020. By July of 2020, more than 9,300 licensed child care providers (about 1 in 4) went out of business in California, more than 80% of these closures where family childcare providers.

Months before COVID-19 hit, Price Philanthropies started an initiative aimed at supporting family childcare businesses never anticipating how vital this program would be for many women and children in City Heights during the pandemic.

The Strengthening Family Childcare Providers Program, called STEPS, is a collaborative effort between the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the YMCA Childcare Resource Service (YMCA CRS), the Horn of Africa (HOA), the Chicano Federation (CF) and the Center for Excellence in Early Development at San Diego State University (CEED).

The pilot project paired 16 businesswomen with “cultural navigators” representing their immigrant and refugee communities, who provided one-on-one support in dealing with contracting agencies, developing business plans and marketing strategies, and more.

Now, one year later, all participating providers are thriving, unlike the majority of family childcare businesses in California. Not only were they able to stay open, but they increased their monthly income through serving more children. The success of the STEPS program has led to the collaborative applying for funding outside of Price to expand the program beyond the City Heights pilot.

“During a year when things were falling apart and people were hearing nothing but devastating stories of businesses closing, STEPS was a ray of light,” shared Nancy Maldonado, Chief Executive Officer of the Chicano Federation. “The providers involved in the STEPS program are doing well and sharing their success stories with us!”