By Stephanie Geneseo and Ashley Wellman, All Nestled Inn, Family Child Care Center
An Initiative of All Nestled Inn, Family Child care Center, Chesapeake, Ohio
What is the ANI Initiative and how did it begin?
Advocating for the Need of Inclusion in Early Childhood Environments, or ANI, was born out of the recognition of the immediate need for placement not only for quality child care, but care in general for children of differing needs in southern Ohio.
We had enrolled in and were accepted to represent the state of Ohio for the inaugural cohort of the National Association of Family Child Care's (NAFCC) Leaders Shaping Leaders initiative. This initiative is a dynamic in-person and virtual learning series that includes 30 sessions of interactive education and networking.
It also included 15 teams of NAFCC leaders and emerging leaders who would participate in a year-long professional development journey uniquely designed for Family Child Care (FCC) providers to strengthen personal and civic leadership, advocacy skills, entrepreneurship, and business sustainability all grounded in NAFCC values and commitments.
Within Leaders Shaping Leaders, we were encouraged to look for a civic need within our community and to build a community project to truly make change surrounding it. While other teams took to developing associations and podcasts, we knew of a locally established, well-qualified family child care center that chose not to reopen following the government shutdowns of the pandemic and who happened to be the only local FCC that openly qualified to work with children with special needs.
We also felt this loss as we would accept phone calls daily from families looking for placement for their children. They would cry, as they would be so used to hearing "no" as soon as they volunteer the information that their child may have autism, an intellectual/developmental disability, or simply require interventions such as speech therapy, applied behavioral analysis, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or other services. Many of these families were simply exhausted, both physically and emotionally.
We saw a need for this care in our community and designed the ANI initiative in a few phases:
Establish All Nestled Inn FCC as a fully inclusive environment.
This required an entire system of documentation to be developed, staff to be trained (continuously), and an invitation extended to all community partners (i.e., OT, PT, SP, IT...) into ANI to complete sessions within the inclusive environment.
2. Expand reach to teach other FCCs and child care centers to implement inclusive environments utilizing the ANI system of design.
We have now seen our services expanded:
Consultation services are now offered.
A full training curriculum has been rendered.
We’re taking part in speaking sessions at national conferences:
At the 2022 NAFCC National Conference in San Francisco, we were able to introduce our initiative to the nation among partners, funders, peers, vendors, and attendees alike.
At the 2023 NAFCC National Conference in Atlanta, we were able to partner with the National Parent Leadership Institute as a sponsor who asked us to present our curriculum and teach interactive session attendees the ANI system design, and emphasize Why Inclusion Matters, as well as how to make their environments truly inclusive. We offered the session bilingually and attendees from all over the nation, along with a few from Liberia and Mexico, attended our class.
4. Upcoming speaking sessions include the OAEYC Conference in Ohio in 2024 and the 2024 MFCN Conference in Montana.
We at ANI believe no child should be considered optional when they had no option, and we will advocate as such.
About the Authors
Stephanie Geneseo has been in business for 30+ years and has degrees in Child Development and Organizational Leadership. Ashley Wellman, while newer to the field of child care, has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the field after spending eight years in adult intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or autism, and two years with children in sexual trauma as well as foster care. Ashley earned her M.Ed. in Counseling & Human Development, as well as her MBA. In addition, she has now worked with Stephanie at All Nestled Inn FCC formally for three years.
About All Nestled Inn, FCC
All Nestled Inn, FCC, now regularly holds at capacity, with a running waitlist, and is known in the community and abroad as the go-to for families who are interested in an inclusive environment for their children or need assistance with their child with differing abilities. The general demographic of All Nestled Inn is 4-6:13 who have some sort of differing ability or require a specialized service.
For more information, please contact All Nestled Inn, FCC.