Building Early Childhood Provider Capacity in Minnesota’s Latino Community

Wed Aug 21 2019
Faviola Estrada speaking about La Red at AAIDD's 2019 national conference in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I provide monthly early childhood development trainings, including early signs and disability supports and services, in Spanish to the Latino community of almost 300 in-home childcare providers network,” says Faviola Estrada (pictured), who, along with Ruth Evangelista, co-founded La Red Latina de Educación Temprana (The Latino Early Childcare Provider Network) in 2013. La Red is a community-based organization that provides tools, capacity, and leadership development for Latino childcare providers in Minnesota to deliver quality childcare, and thus support the health of their families and community. Trainings run the gamut from First Aid, nutrition, and physical activity to healthy early childhood development, school literature, and support for children with special needs. Estrada, Evangelista, and La Red colleague Carolina De La Rosa Mateo are all Diversity Fellows supported by the Research and Training Center on Community Living Diversity Fellowships, which ICI launched last year to (1) increase the knowledge and capacity of disability within community-based organizations that serve diverse and/or underrepresented families, and (2) inform ICI about how to increase staff/trainee diversity, support underserved individuals and families, and better serve diverse communities. The fellowship is part of ICI's efforts expand the diversity of its staff and stakeholders, and to address the professional and educational disparities experienced by Minnesota’s historically underrepresented communities.

Health inequities begin at an early age and children’s early experiences are deeply connected to their future physical, cognitive, and social development. La Red serves family, friend, and neighbor childcare (FFN) providers—the most common form of care for infants and toddlers. In Minnesota, nearly 40 percent of children age 2 and younger and 25 percent of children age 3 to 5 are estimated to be primarily in FFN care. Families often choose FFN because it is a culturally appropriate model of care, and they want someone they know and trust watching over their children. However, FFN care lacks support services; most resources are aimed at formal/licensed child care centers and at parents. La Red works to overcome the systemic barriers that FFN childcare providers face by providing members with quality trainings, educational opportunities, and leadership development. Those trainings include early childhood development, building equitable health outcomes for people experiencing the greatest inequities and for future generations. The organization also creates a space for FFN providers to connect and support each other, build community, and increase social cohesion. Moreover, La Red advocates for family rights, organizing and mobilizing network members around policies and community-based solutions. “All of us together; we bring ideas, organize, and provide a healthier life for our children,” says Estrada.

The Fellowship director is Jennifer Hall-Lande.