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How Judge Judy inspried me to become a family child care provider

Do you ever wonder what led others to this career? Did they always know they wanted to work with children, or did the stumble into it by happenstance? How did you end up here? I always say I didn’t find my passion, my passion found me.

In 2012, my oldest son was 10 months old, my husband had just returned from a war zone, and the military moved us clear across the country away from all our family for the first time. And I decided this was a great time to to go back to work for the first time since having my son. My background is retail. I have a Bachelor’s in business from the University of Colorado and have worked retail since I was 16. Upon our move, I was hired at the Coach leather goods store in the mall as their manager, just weeks before Christmas. It was truly my winter wonderland. All that was left was to find child care.

I will never forget the day we toured our first and only child care center. The images are still burned into my mind. After introducing herself, the director took us into the infant room where our precious baby would be cared for. I counted six cribs in the room, two of which imprisoned crying infants. There was one child holding a rattle, which was the single solitary toy I saw in the entire room. Another child toddled over to some cabinets and began peeling the laminate wood off the side. And the TV in the corner was playing Judge Judy at a very loud volume. Needless to say, it was a very brief tour. My husband and I tore out of there before I began sobbing, tears flowing nonstop.

We went back to the military support offices, begging them to help us. I desperately wanted this job, but I also knew I couldn’t leave my son in that facility. Infant care was in high demand, leading to a two-year waitlist at the military child care centers. Thus, we were referred to military-licensed family child care. Until then, I only had a vague idea that women sometimes cared for children in their homes.

We found a great provider, but the separation anxiety was too much for our son. He literally would just cry nonstop. He wouldn’t eat for her, he wouldn’t sleep. I walked in one day to see him actively playing with a toy, while crying. The next day it was the provider who was crying. She explained to me that she was on some food program and could get in a lot of trouble. Her husband had come home for lunch and he fed the infant French fries! Heaven forbid! (Haha, I can laugh about it now that I understand the regulations. At the time, I was overjoyed that he had finally eaten something, ANYTHING, while in her care.) Soon after, he came home and slept for over 18 hours straight. The stress was taking its toll and it was frankly too much. I quit my job and his provider suggested I look at becoming a provider myself.

Over the past 8 years I have worked tirelessly to learn as much as I can and provide the highest quality care for the families I serve. I want to provide the type of care I would want for my own children. But I have also faced much adversity and have had to navigate a lot of outside turbulence. All of these experiences have led me to where I am today. I completed a second Bachelor’s in ECE last year and am just weeks away from completing my Master’s of Arts in Early Childhood Education Leadership. I know that we need to do better for our children. While I love watching me some Judge Judy, I am on a mission to help all of our children access the quality care they deserve.

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