In an effort to address a rise in unmet child care needs throughout the city back in 1976, the Gardena Family Child Care Program (GFCC) was established and 45 years later, it is still going strong in the land known as the City of Opportunity.
Consisting of a network of 23 private, state-licensed family child care homes in Gardena and neighboring cities, the GFCC’s mission is to provide quality child care to infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and school-age children.
Nicola Howard, manager of the GFCC, said the program serves 190 children from 135 families that are currently enrolled in the program who are either Gardena residents or who work or go to school in Gardena.
“Families have to have a need for the program,” Howard said. “So while parents are working, looking for work, in training, in school or incapacitated and need assistance, if they need child care, we can provide that. They will get child care for as many hours as we can verify their need. We look at all of the documentation that they submit while they are working or going to school and provide care based on that.”
Funding for the GFCC is currently through a contract with the California Department of Social Services Child Care and Development Division.
Previously, the program was funded through a contract with the California Department of Education (DOE), but this month marked the move from the DOE to the Department of Social Services.
When interested families come to the Gardena Child Care Program, they are enrolled, provided they meet the income guidelines and then they are sent to the child care providers.
To be eligible for enrollment in the program, in addition to the income guidelines, Gardena residents must also meet other criteria established by the California Department of Social Services, which funds the GFCC.
Potential GFCC families must be referred by the Department of Children and Family Services and must meet one of the following criteria established by the California Department of Social Services:
- High-risk families referred by the California Department of Social Services
- Seeking employment
- Incapacitated and require child care
- Enrolled in school or a training program
- Work or attend school/training in Gardena
All child care provided to the families is done at the provider’s home and the providers are state licensed for either 8 or 14 children. Capacity requirements depend on the age of the kids.
“The providers provide meals and during the day they provide age-appropriate activities that help each child in their learning in lots of different areas,” Howard said. “They will do social/emotional, cognitive math and science activities and physical activities outdoors. They will also do arts and crafts. Meals and snacks are also provided.”
In addition, children enrolled in the program will participate in field trips and holiday and summer programs.
Parents can get involved as well by participating in the program’s Parent Advisory Council and receive parent education.
The GFCC has not been impacted by the recent pandemic because they are state funded and were able to remain operational in the midst of nationwide shutdowns.
While many of the GFCC providers were able to remain open and serve the families, they addressed the pandemic by making many changes to the program to ensure the health and safety of the children in their care.
Changes include creating more space in their home, creating individual learning areas for each child so that they weren’t sharing a lot of equipment and converting their indoor program to an outdoor program.
With much of the country getting back to normal post-pandemic, many children will be returning to in-person schooling in the fall.
As a result, the GFCC will have several open spots for children ages 2 to 5 and in fact, they are currently recruiting in that age group.
In addition to their search for children to include in the program, Howard said they are also looking for more child care providers.
According to the City of Gardena’s website, the GFCC is looking for providers who are professional, caring, nurturing, and understand how children grow and develop.
GFCC staff offers technical assistance, information, and assistance with such items as curriculum, child care environment, behavioral problems, and developmental and age-appropriate practices to providers in the GFCC network.
For more information on the GFCC or to apply to be part of the GFCC Network, call 310-217-9588. GFCC contracts with providers who live in Gardena and in some areas of Torrance, Hawthorne, and 90260 Lawndale.
For information on enrolling your child or children in the GFCC program, call 310-217-6115 or email email@example.com.