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Home-Based Child Care Gets Boost

Nilda Aponte will be traveling through unfamiliar territory in Norwalk for the next 10 months, prompting Mayor Richard Moccia to make her a promise Wednesday. "We'll give you a GPS," he said, provoking laughter at the ribbon cutting for Norwalk's new All Our Kin project.

The city is one of two Connecticut communities chosen to work with the nationally recognized New Haven-based nonprofit. Aponte, licensing director of the Family Childcare Toolkit program, will visit Norwalk residents who are trying to become licensed child-care providers, counseling them and supporting them through the lengthy and complex licensing process.

The kits she will provide contain all the paperwork needed, as well as smoke detectors, electrical outlet covers, children's books and toys. As participants complete each step, they will receive a box for the next one, and Aponte will provide guidance.

Although the program is new to Norwalk, it is tried and true in New Haven, where it began in 1999. "In New Haven, the results of this project have been remarkable," said Jessica Sager, executive director of All Our Kin. "From 2000 to 2007, the number of licensed family child care homes in the state of Connecticut decreased by 32 percent. That's how hard it is to run a family child care business. At the same time in New Haven, those numbers went up by about 27 percent, which is a number that analysts credit primarily to All Our Kin's efforts."

The local All Our Kin is a 10-month project. It is a program of the Norwalk Early Childhood Council and is funded by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Foundation . Aponte's office will be located at NEON . Volunteers from the Fairfield County Chapter of SCORE , an organization of retired business executives, will also help participants.

"Safe, quality child care also helps local businesses," Moccia said in a statement. "Employees are much more productive when they know their children are well-cared for."

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