“Children’s Council has been our lifeline”

This month we’re highlighting just a few of the thousands of families and child care providers whose lives have been impacted by Children’s Council. Today we introduce you to Owen and Mia.

Donate now and make every day count for kids in our community! www.childrenscouncil.org/giveback

Last year, when Owen and Mia moved to San Francisco with their two children — son Rizal, age eight; and daughter Nyima, age three – they thought they had everything they needed to start a Family Child Care (FCC) program in their home.

Owen and Mia didn’t realize the enormous challenges that lay ahead and how Children’s Council would play a critical role in helping them achieve their dreams.

They had both had successful careers as contract project managers on the East Coast. Owen says, “We were making good salaries and saving money, but we were completely miserable. We were telling our children to find their passion and chase their dreams, but we weren’t giving them an example. So we walked away from our jobs and decided to do only the things that we were passionate about.”

Fortunately, they had a friend in San Francisco who told them about the great need for child care providers in the city. With his help, they secured a rental home in the Castro with a landlord who would allow them to open a child care program in it. Owen says, “My wife came from a big family where everyone took responsibility for the kids, and I had worked with at-risk kids for 11 years, so it felt like we were born to do this type of work.”

They sold almost everything they owned, packed up what was left, and moved their family cross-country to San Francisco.

They placed an ad on Craigslist and had a sign put in front of the building, announcing the opening of their program. Before they even got into town, 18 families had already inquired about securing a spot for their child.

Owen and Mia

Unfortunately when they arrived, they discovered the house was in terrible condition. Mia says, “We didn’t have resources to fall back on, so we worked around the clock.” In eight days, they transformed the space not only into a home, but into a place where parents would want to bring their kids.

The couple also needed to quickly navigate the child care licensing process, which brought them to Children’s Council. Mia says, “We came to Children’s Council to get fingerprinted, while we were there we picked up a flyer. We came to a Tuesday Playgroup, then a workshop, and from there it just snowballed.” Now Mia and Owen are actively involved in a wide variety of Children’s Council programs for both parents and providers.

At Children’s Council, Owen and Mia not only received the training and support they needed to open and run a successful child care business, they also found a community to help them transition to their new lives.

Mia says, “We started this journey without much experience. There is so much learning that needs to happen – incorporating, workshops, courses – so that we can be certified and to be able to tell parents that we’ve got high quality. This is our home, but it’s a business and we have a curriculum.”

“There is a very high demand for child care in this city, day cares cannot open fast enough,” says Owen, “but parents are not just going stick their kids anywhere, this is a huge decision and they need to feel good about it.”

CLICK FOR VIDEO: Jessica Boehme-Flores, Parent & Caregiver Education Manager talks about Owen & Mia

“When we arrived in San Francisco, we didn’t know anybody,” Mia says. “We knew we needed to learn a lot, and we wanted to connect with other parents. Now we go to Parent Café at Children’s Council, it’s a great place for parents to decompress and voice their concerns and self-judgements. We talk it out and express ourselves, and we all walk away feeling better.”

The couple is also involved in Parent Voices, Children’s Council’s parent advocacy group. Mia says, “Parent Voices is actively working to solve the child care crisis in San Francisco. We have been activists before, so it was great to learn that Parent Voices was doing this work. And we have a community to lean on. In Parent Voices, we are all there for each other.”

Mia face painting at City Kids Family Fair.

They also participate in our Provider Nutrition Program, which ensures that the kids in their program are eating nutritious meals. And Mia served as Children’s Council’s official face-painter at our recent City Kids Family Fair.

As both parents and new child care providers transitioning to a different city, Owen and Mia were looking for a multitude of supports: they got everything they needed at Children’s Council, and the children and families served by their program are reaping the benefits.

Mia says, “Kids can’t wait for us adults to get our priorities straight. These kids are going to be running the world; we want to normalize things like compassion, environmental stewardship and community for these kids. We have to teach these things to kids now or they’re going to be lost.”

Mia and Owen learned firsthand how Children’s Council makes every day count for San Francisco families. But we need your support to keep our programs thriving. Your gift will help more families choose their path to success.

Donate now and make every day count for kids in our community! www.childrenscouncil.org/giveback

More photos of Owen, Mia, and the children in their program:

Gardening day 

Owen and Mia with Nancy Pelosi and Parent Voices Coordinator Maria Luz-Torres

Dolores Park outing

City Hall/Civic Center field trip

 

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