Provider Spotlight: Sarah’s House

Sarah’s House recently welcomed Maryland EXCELS to its child care center at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County.

Sarah’s House, which is part of a partnership between Catholic Charities, Anne Arundel County, and the U.S. Army, offers housing, child care, and other supportive services for families experiencing homelessness.

Toys organized in baskets on labeled shelvesMaryland EXCELS had the opportunity to tour the child care center, watch provider and child interactions, and speak with Program Manager Jana Boddy and staff. The center, a Maryland EXCELS Quality Rating 3, showed a clear dedication to providing a supportive and sensitive learning environment for the children in its care.

Ms. Boddy talked with Maryland EXCELS about her experience at the child care center.

Q: When did you know that this was exactly the kind of work you wanted to do?

A: For me, it wasn’t intentional. I found myself working in child care, and I never thought about leaving. I continued to move up and am proud that I’ve built the kind of program and reputation that attracts and retains wonderful staff.

Q: Is there one thing about your program that’s most near and dear to your heart?

Pots and pans hanging on a fence in an outdoor music centerA: Because our children sometimes transition out of our center within days of placement, we don’t have a strong focus on academics and measurable learning outcomes. Instead, we focus on making the most positive impact we can in a short period of time.

We pride ourselves on centering trauma-informed care and risky play here. We find that this combination of approaches supports children emotionally while also giving them freedom to try new things, fail, and learn to keep trying.

Q: What advice would you have for a new provider?

A: Connecting with resources and people in our community has been so helpful. We work with the University of Maryland Extension office to participate in their education initiatives, including an Edible ABC’s program that introduces our children to new fruits and vegetables.

We also have wonderful individuals who donate to our program and help us get materials we wouldn’t even have been able to find on our own.

Q: What role has Maryland EXCELS played for your program?

A: It’s given me a straightforward path to follow and a guide to improving my program. When I came in as a program manager, the center needed a major overhaul in every way–from building repairs and furniture replacements to recruiting highly trained and experienced staff. The support from Maryland EXCELS and my MSDE Quality Assurance Specialist, Thea Quible, has been a tremendous help.