Family Child Care provider loves job, role in shaping children’s lives

  • Published
  • By Rhonda Siciliano
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
What does it take to be an Air Force Family Child Care provider? The answer can be found behind the door of Leonor Ayala's Hanscom home where she has been operating the Harmonious Kidz Family Child Care since August 2006. 

Ms. Ayala's journey to becoming a Family Child Care provider started with her love for children and desire to be a stay at home mom to her four children. Her husband Staff Sergeant. Matthew Ayala-Roman is a musician assigned to the United States Air Force Band of Liberty. 

"I've worked with children all of my life and I knew I needed to do something to keep up my skills," she said. 

Ms. Ayala has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked as a music teacher. Soon after her arrival to Hanscom she began giving cello and flute lessons to children on base but she still wanted to do more and that's when she met Courtney Cann, 66th Services Squadron, Family Child Care Coordinator. 

"I became interested in being a Family Child Care provider because I felt I needed to do something to utilize my education," Ms. Ayala said. "I picked up the application materials to become a FCC provider and began the certification process." 

The FCC Program offers in-home care for children ages two weeks to 12 years. 

"The great thing about being a Family Child Care provider is that you can operate your own home-based business, set your own hours, be with your children and care for other children in your home," Ms. Cann said. "Once you become a licensed provider your credentials are portable. If you PCS, or if your spouse leaves the military you can move your business along with your family." 

As for the licensing process, Ms. Ayala explained that at first it seemed a little overwhelming but as she went through each step she learned that "it really wasn't that hard and there was plenty of help along the way." 

The certification process includes a background check of the provider and their family members, two days of orientation training in addition to 24 to 36 additional hours of training. 

"There are 15 modules that a family child care provider has to complete. They will undergo annual home inspections from fire, safety and public health to ensure that their home is safe to care for children," Ms. Cann said. 

On average, the process to become certified takes approximately two to three months.
For anyone who loves children and wants to work from home the benefits of being a home care provider are endless. 

"I love to teach children and for me the FCC program was the perfect fit," Ms. Ayala said. "When I started this I thought it would be a temporary thing until my children got a little older, but now I'm not so sure. I really love what I do and I love being able to stay at home to do it." 

The Family Child Care program couldn't be happier with Ms. Ayala's decision to become a provider said Ms. Cann "She is everything we are looking for in a home care provider. She's patient, caring, nurturing and her enthusiasm is second to none. She really has a gift of meeting the needs of the age range of children she is caring for." 

Inside her home are examples of the diversity of skills that are taught to the children. Whether it is music familiarization, arts and crafts activities, or learning basic life skills, each lesson is presented in such a way that every child, from infant to pre-school, gains something from the experience. 

Setting high standards for the care that she provides Ms. Ayala is currently seeking accreditation from the National Association for Family Child Care. 

"She's always pursued the ultimate in professional growth and that is reflected in the extraordinary care she gives to each of the children in her program," said Laurel Wironen, 66th Services Squadron Training and Curriculum Specialist. "She's dedicated to what she does and is a great mentor and role model to other FCC providers. She is always willing to take time to help them succeed." 

Right now Hanscom has eight home care providers, but Ms. Cann is hoping to have many more. 

"We are hoping to find providers who would be interested in caring for one to two children in their homes." 

Ms. Cann said that anyone providing child care in their home for more than 10 hours per week must be licensed. "Unlicensed child care is a violation of base regulations and may result in the loss of base privileges. We're here to help navigate interested providers through the licensing process." 

The FCC Program is currently recruiting providers to take care of children with special needs to include children with asthma, allergies, cerebral palsy, physical impairments. We also need providers to care for children during swing and evening shifts. Anyone interested in learning more about the Family Child Care Program should contact Ms. Cann at (781) 377-1695, email, or stop by the Child Development Center to pick up an information packet. 

"I'm very glad to be a part of the Family Child Care program," Ms. Ayala said. "My goal is to help families raise independent children that will be good civilians in their community."