Audrey McBath grew up knowing she wanted to be an educator. As a kid, she saw her single mom make her way through college and become a teacher and an administrator, while also raising three successful adults. Audrey saw the hard work and strength it took for her mom to get to where she did, but she also saw the impact her mom made on the children whom she would cross paths with—and that inspired her to make her own impact.
Audrey began her journey as an educator more than 20 years ago as a preschool teacher in San Bernardino. She taught there for a few years and then moved to San Diego and began teaching Head Start. While on her journey, she realized that there must be a different and even better way of using her education and passion for helping children flourish. That was when the idea struck. If she could open her own family child care, she would be free to create her own curriculum and dedicate more focused attention to each of the children in her care.
For Audrey, the transition was almost seamless. Even as a new family child care provider, she quickly filled the licensed spots with the children from the Head Start program where she had previously worked and other children in the neighborhood. She was ecstatic to be able to create an environment where she could try different approaches to ensure the children in her care have the best possible preparation for kindergarten and beyond.
She loved it from the beginning because not only did she become her own boss, creating a successful and fulfilling business, but because it allowed her to get creative with her teaching methods, while also being a source of information and resources for her community.
“We work with the parents, children, and grandparents trying to set a positive example for the children at the day care,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are family, and we treat each other as such.”
Audrey knows first-hand that the work of a family child care provider doesn’t start and end within the walls of her home. It extends physical boundaries because every lesson is a stepping stone in the child’s life. From learning the numbers, colors, and letters, to learning how to treat others with respect and how to express big emotions in a healthy way—every day and every lesson is foundational for the children in her care.
Even when times were hard, like at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Audrey doubled down to be a pillar in her community and someone her parents could rely on. In the mix of it all, some parents were able to keep their children at home, while others needed Audrey’s services. She made sure to establish protocols that helped keep everyone safe, and she had her union to back her up!
Audrey had been an active member of Child Care Providers United (CCPU) since its unofficial roots over 17 years ago, meaning that when times were extra tough during the pandemic, she knew where she could turn to for help. She knew she could reach out to her local organizer and get the support she needed. From consistent PPE and diaper distributions to ensuring family child care providers received paid COVID closure days, stipends, and stabilization funds, an increase in pay for subsidized children and so much more, CCPU was a shoulder to lean on throughout the toughest of times.
Today things are much better for Audrey. She gets to enjoy her time with the children in her care and continues to support her families to the best of her ability. Whether her children are one or thirteen years old, she’s always paying attention to their individualized needs and gives them the tools they need to succeed today, tomorrow, and every day.
“What I love most about my work is that I get to work with and help the families and give them the resources they need, while also working directly with the children and making arts and crafts with them and sharing story time,” she said. “I love being able to change lives.”