All Our Partners: Maryland Family Network

March 31, 2023 / 5 mins read


Want to know more about the innovative work that All Our Kin’s Technical Assistance (TA) partners are doing across the country to strengthen home-based child care (also known as family child care)? As part of a new series highlighting TA partners, we spoke with Karen Eisenhuth, Early Childhood Business Coordinator at the Maryland Family Network (MFN). Recognizing the opportunity to bring a unified approach to family child care (FCC) business practices, MFN is delivering All Our Kin’s Business Series to educators across the state of Maryland.*

All Our Kin: Could you please share about MFN’s work and what you do there?

Karen Eisenhuth: MFN works to ensure that all children in Maryland have access to quality learning environments. My department oversees the Child Care Resource and Referral network here. Two of the programs I coordinate focus on building sustainable businesses where FCC professionals can thrive, which is extremely important as FCC programs across the state continue to close. FCC is very close to my heart, as I started my journey as an FCC professional here in Maryland.

AOK: How did you originally connect with All Our Kin’s TA program?

KE: At MFN, we wanted to support the business practices of FCC professionals, but we were unsure of the path. All Our Kin is the only training that I know of that was designed specifically for FCC businesses. I was able to take All Our Kin’s Business Train-the-Trainer (TTT) in January 2022 and also attend the ten-week Business Series itself. Back when I started at MFN, we only had one person trained in the state to deliver All Our Kin’s Business Series. Now we have 16, which is incredible.

AOK: That’s wonderful! How has working with All Our Kin to deliver the Business Series furthered MFN’s goals of supporting FCC educators as small business owners?

KE: So far, we have been able to deliver the Business Series to five cohorts of FCC professionals statewide, and are working with 300 people through our FCC programs. The feedback from educators has been really incredible. Perhaps more significantly, the impact is most evident in the skills and understanding of our trainers. We can’t support FCC professionals if we don’t understand what they do and the context of their business. And FCC professionals are building connections with their peers, sharing their voices, and growing their entrepreneurial mindsets.

AOK: All Our Kin’s Business Series teaches educators the fundamentals of running FCC businesses, from writing contracts to determining which areas of their homes are used for their businesses. What was it about the Series that you felt aligned with MFN’s work?

KE: We knew we wanted to grow our network of trainers, and to develop a unified foundation of business supports. Our coaches have been trained in early childhood education and didn’t necessarily feel comfortable delivering business-focused training. We worked with Joel and Simon from TA to develop an in-person training experience, building on our coaches’ existing knowledge to understand the specific context of FCC business. It was truly a unique experience as our staff were trained on the Business Series material and could practice what they learned by facilitating it to our other network trainers, all while being supported by the TA staff in the room. It made our team feel more comfortable in delivering content that they had not been super comfortable with previously.

AOK: Can you share some of the feedback from FCC professionals that have participated in MFN’s business series?

KE: The biggest thing is that FCC professionals have felt heard. It has not just been a general early childhood education training; it is FCC-focused. They are passionate about teaching children, they know they want to be community leaders, but they don’t really see themselves as small business owners and that is exactly what they are. Through this series they have been able to develop goals, pay themselves a living wage, and see the importance of being able to take care of the business side of their programs. Then they can spend more time doing the pieces that they feel more passionate about.

AOK: Anything else you’d like to share?

KE: I want to thank All Our Kin for being so passionate. Your passion sparks other people’s passion, and I think that is why our partnership has worked so well.

We want to thank Karen and the amazing trainers across the MFN network for their collaboration! These TA relationships allow us to share our learnings from All Our Kin networks over the past 20 years as we support tremendous organizations working with family child care across the country.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.