December 12, 2019
Pamela Funderburk doesn’t make a distinction between caring for children and running her child care business–the children are the reason she’s in business.
Funderburk, who has been a family child care provider for more than 30 years, considers the eight children in her Ms. P’s Sprouts Family Childcare program in Woodlawn part of her family.
“A lot of times friends and parents have told me I care too much and I need to be focused on the business side of child care. My thought on that is if you’re having somebody’s children in your home, it’s personal,” Funderburk said.
“Most of my kids have been with me since they were infants, and I just can’t look at them as just a business, even though I know it’s a business,” she said. “My heart takes over.”
But Funderburk has learned over the years that having a solid structure for the business side of her child care allows her to focus on what she loves most, which is caring for children and giving parents peace of mind while their children are with her.
“The best part of my job is when I’m looking into a parent’s eyes and I realize that they trust me with their children,” she said.
Funderburk, a Quality Rated Level 5 Maryland EXCELS provider, is accredited by the National Family Child Care Association and holds a Maryland Child Care Credential. She credits Maryland EXCELS’ staff and resources with helping her achieve her goals to grow as a provider and business owner.
“It helps me to check myself. As a family provider, we’re on our own. We do our own business,” she said. “I found that I had to sit there and make myself make sure that I was implementing everything I needed to do in family child care. I’m my own director and assistant director but [Maryland] EXCELS helps me to know what I need to be doing.”
She has also been able to share the importance of Maryland EXCELS with families. When Maryland EXCELS held a Family Fun Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on a weekend in September, Funderburk brought some of the children from her child care.
“I thought, if I win, I’m going to take all of these kids whose parents have trouble finding care on the weekends,” she said. “I explained [to parents] that [the event is] … through Maryland EXCELS. They promote high-quality family child care, and they want to make sure we’re providing a safe environment for the kids and also make sure the kids could have a fun day. It was really, really nice.”
Funderburk also goes out of her way to let other programs and providers know about the benefits and mission of Maryland EXCELS.
As an observer for programs and providers who are seeking accreditation through the National Association for Family Child Care, Funderburk has the opportunity to encourage other family child care providers to take advantage of Maryland EXCELS and the extensive training available. She emphasizes the importance of building a foundation for their businesses as well as growing as child care and early education providers.
“It’s a win-win situation for all. If people don’t participate in credentialing or Maryland EXCELS or accreditation, you’re shorting yourself and your career goals,” she said.
A common concern she hears from providers is that they’ll be on their own once they participate in Maryland EXCELS.
“They don’t realize that once you participate in EXCELS that a specialist will help you if you have any concerns, if you have any questions, or you’re stuck somewhere,” Funderburk said. “Even with the level that I am, I can get stuck and I can call [my QAS], and she’ll just walk me through it. …The help is there.”
Whether it’s nurturing the children and families in her child care or encouraging other family child care providers, Funderburk’s motivation is to ensure children are receiving the best possible care.
“I’ve been doing family child care for 31 years. And I always say, when I get to the end, I want to be a mentor just to encourage people to stay in family child care,” she said. “It is family.”
Learn more about the Maryland Accreditation Support Fund here.
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