As a college student, Luis Figueroa thought he wanted to teach elementary school—until he graduated and took a part-time job as a teaching assistant in an early care and education (ECE) program, where he found that he preferred working with the birth-to-age 5 set.
“At that age, they are amazed by everything, basically, so you can make a lot of difference in their lives,” he said.
Deo Agustin’s career in early care and education (ECE) began during the Great Recession, when she was laid off from her job as a program manager at a tech company. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in math before immigrating to the U.S. from the Philippines with her family in 1993, Deo had worked her way up from the motherboard assembly line to worldwide materials management to program management.
She credited her professional success to hard work, intelligence, and an interest in understanding how systems work—qualities that came in handy when her mother, who ran a family childcare in Adelanto, CA, suggested they weather the recession by going into business together. For Deo, opening a family childcare business was motivated by practicality rather than passion. She needed to work, but she had never felt called to care for children. After trading in her corporate uniform of blazers and heels for child-friendly casual wear, Deo wondered what she had gotten herself into.
“I was crying,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh Lord, is this really for me? I’m changing diapers!’”
Fourteen years later, Deo feels very differently about what she and her mother created.
Since founding her home-based family childcare business 12 years ago, Roxana Flores has cared for more than 50 children at Roxana’s Day Care in San Jose, CA, many of them now tweens and teens who still visit her. She provides professional coaching for other family child care providers, and during our May 14, 2022 Leadership Forum on Early Education, Research, Policy, and Practice, Floresshared her expertise as a panelist in a session about how to better recognize and elevate family childcare.
The journey to becoming a successful business owner was not an easy one. As a new immigrant to the United States from Mexico and the single parent of a young child with special needs, Flores launched her career as a family childcare owner in part so that she could better care for her daughter. At one point, her days stretched from the early morning hours until well past 10 at night as Flores held down a job, got her daughter to daily speech therapy appointments, took courses toward her early care and education license at night, and maintained her household.