Carmel Craig to Join NeighborSchools Board of Advisors

 

NeighborSchools has announced that Carmel Craig will join the organization’s newly established Board of Advisors.

Carmel Craig, former Deputy Commissioner for Field Operations at the EEC, will join the NeighborSchools Board of Advisors

Carmel Craig, former Deputy Commissioner for Field Operations at the EEC, will join the NeighborSchools Board of Advisors

“What NeighborSchools is offering—serving as both partner and guide for aspiring Family Child Care Providers—is invaluable,” says Carmel. “I’m looking forward to helping advance that mission.”

Carmel comes to the NeighborSchools Advisory Board with over ten years of experience at Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care, during which time she served as general counsel and deputy commissioner of field operations. “I sort of stumbled into the work,” explains Carmel, who was an attorney with several firms, as well as her own practice, prior to accepting a position at the EEC. “But I quickly fell in love with the work of the agency and child care generally. I have so much respect for how hard Providers work and the impact they make on children’s lives.”

“Of course, once I settled into the Department, I learned even more about the importance of quality child care,” says Carmel. “Early childhood education is critical to healthy brain growth, which influences academic and social development.”

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In her various roles at the EEC, Carmel oversaw and managed the Family Child Care (FCC) licensing process—a rigorous series of trainings, paperwork, background checks, home inspections, and more. “Setting up your own child care program and getting licensed is very time-consuming and confusing,” explains Carmel. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through: filings, inspection of the home, and follow-up. The Department asks for a lot of documentation in regard to child care health and safety, which is vital, but it places tremendous pressure on Providers.”

In reflecting on her career at the EEC, Carmel says she wishes the agency could have done more to support Family Child Care and the FCC Providers. “FCCs are such an integral part of the child care system,” says Carmel. “Child care is not one-size-fits all—every child is unique and so are their needs.” Carmel explains that, with smaller ratios, FCCs often offer more individualized care in a familiar home environment—and parents benefit from the convenience of a program located right in their own neighborhoods. “The Provider is someone who is a part of their community,” says Carmel, “Someone they might run into in the grocery store or at a baseball game.”

“Unfortunately, since these Providers are running a child care program by themselves or with one other person, they aren’t able to attend EEC trainings during the day,” Carmel continues. “They can’t take the time away from work.”

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Carmel hopes that through her service on the NeighborSchools Advisory Board, she can help to bridge this information divide, offer the support FCC Providers deserve, and encourage more people to pursue careers in early childhood education. “Across the board, we are seeing a decline in the number of people working in the child care industry,” says Carmel. “But opening an FCC home is a wonderful opportunity for Providers to run their own business and establish a program that meets their unique vision for early childhood education, based on their experiences and the needs of their neighborhood. I think the resources and guidance that NeighborSchools offers will change the landscape, and I hope I can play a role in empowering people to launch their programs.”

Carmel is quick to explain that she doesn’t have any secret, insider knowledge of the licensing process. “But I can help shed light on the regulation requirements and explain what to expect,” she says. “At the end of the day, child care is both a passion and a business. I want to help Providers marry those two elements, positioning themselves for success and offering dependable child care to families in their community.”