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In 2019, Maria Amado Lastra embarked on an effort to provide early care educators with a consistent network of support. Amado Lastra spent months reaching out to family childcare educators by phone. Her goal was to organize educators as a mutually supportive community. The group became Hartford Family Child Care Educators. Relying exclusively on volunteers, members shared information and organized professional development workshops, materials, and resources, all despite the challenges presented by COVID and zero funding. Today, this community of 120 early care educators is primarily made up of Latine women, approximately half of whom are from Hartford and Greater Hartford.

Over the past three years, Hartford Family Child Care Educators has offered 27 educational workshops covering topics such as social emotional development, curriculum planning, using recycled materials, literacy, and diversity. Members also donated art materials, furniture for infants, and educational materials to educators just starting their programs.

In addition to being educators, this community of Latine women are also small business owners looking to learn how to manage, plan and design business strategies. To that end, the group is offering members access to “The Business Series,” a curriculum designed by All Our Kin that is focused and designed exclusively for family childcare businesses. To support this effort, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded Hartford Family Child Care Educators a one-year, $15,000 grant.

“I am very grateful to the Hartford Foundation for this grant that means so much to our Hartford Family Child Care Educators Community,” said Amando Lastra. “Families need a safe and secure place where their children will be supported both emotionally and physically. Many of our providers have faced challenges in managing the financial side of a business. This educational series will ensure that they can better manage their finances and become more self-sufficient in order to stay in business and support our families.”

The Business Series provides training to develop tools and strategies to successfully manage the finances of a Family Child Care small business. It is specifically designed to address unique needs of early child care providers, such as how to navigate Connecticut’s early child care subsidy program, Care4Kids. and the 35-day gap between when services are provided and when payments are made.

“This has been a labor of love, a labor of perseverance and grit,” said All Our Kin Senior Director Marina Rodriguez. “If you asked me to define what successful collaboration and networking looks like, I would say that it looks like the work that Maria and her group did to receive this funding. Maria and I worked closely together through an accreditation project that All Our Kin implemented in Hartford. When Maria set out to organize as the natural connector that I am, I connected her to Joel Hicks-Rivera at the Hartford Foundation because I knew that something powerful would come out of it and it did.”

The Foundation’s grant will provide the opportunity for two family childcare educators from Greater Hartford to be trained in the All Our Kin model of The Business Series Train the Trainer initiative. Once these providers complete the program, they will become trainers to offer the Business Series to at least ten additional educators from the Greater Hartford area.

“The availability of high-quality childcare plays a powerful role in ensuring that people can participate in the workforce,” said Hartford Foundation Senior Community Impact Officer Joel Hicks Rivera. “The Hartford Foundation has long recognized the importance of home-based family childcare providers and has supported efforts to support their efforts to provide high quality early care and education and create successful businesses. This educational series will help to ensure that more providers can successfully maintain their businesses while continuing to support working families in Hartford.”


The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $948 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit or call 860-548-1888.