Every day, members of the UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter find the strength and courage to take in new families and support the neediest young children throughout the city, essentially becoming extended family members, according to Chapter Chair Tammie Miller.
The chapter’s 14,000 home-based providers educate and nurture infants and children up to age 12 and enable parents to work without worrying about their children’s well-being, she said. “I feel like what they do is they breathe hope into these children and they keep pouring it into them so the children know they’re loved and they’re cared for.”
Miller thanked members at four Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremonies in different boroughs this spring, culminating with a joint Brooklyn-Manhattan celebration at UFT headquarters on May 12, during the week that Gov. Kathy Hochul declared as Early Childhood Educator and Child Care Provider Appreciation Week. More than 50 providers who were nominated by their peers received awards for chapter leadership, outstanding professional services, excellent regulatory compliance and other achievements. The chapter also honored the city’s Administration for Children’s Services for supporting providers.
Two of the Chapter Leadership Awards went to Jo-Ann Sampson, the Family Child Care Provider Chapter’s 2nd borough chair for Manhattan who founded Jody’s Shining Stars 16 years ago, and Dina Destin, the chapter’s Brooklyn borough chair who opened Destin’s Darlings Daycare in 2009.
Sampson said her goal has always been to change her community by advocating for children and providing a great foundation for learning. She is introducing American Sign Language to help babies, staff and parents communicate, and she is studying for her master’s in psychology.
“I think I’ve done great work. I stayed open during COVID. I am a humanitarian,” said Sampson. “I care about people and I care about children, so I’m always a yes for helping out and doing things.”
Destin, who primarily serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers, is a former Administration for Children’s Services day care investigator who saw some unsafe and unhealthy practices. She turned the extra space in her home into a safe place where children can “get the same love and attention they do at home,” she said. “I love it, really. I think it was one of the best decisions I made.”
Destin said she is glad to be in the UFT, which does a lot for members. “We’ve come a long way,” she said.
Vidotama “Vicki” Agueda, who runs Lefferts Daycare in South Richmond Hill, Queens, received a Merit Award. A native of Guyana in South America, Agueda has been a day care provider since 2005, when she switched careers from medical billing. She likes being a 3-K provider because her program sets children up for lifelong learning and she witnesses such growth.
“I love to see their smiles,” Agueda said. “The thing that kills me the most is when they walk in in the morning and they say, ‘I love you.’ ”