Hi, my name is Amy Nogar and I'm the family child care provider behind Amy & Kids Co. Nature Playschool. I didn't plan to become a family child care provider, but after 25+ years in family child care I can't imagine a more fulfilling career!
This is the story of how I accidentally fell in love with family child care.
My husband and I were in college when our oldest was born. I was young, naive and didn't know what questions to ask or what to look for when choosing a family child care provider. What I found was a series of moms who wanted to supplement their income for a while, but never intended to stay in child care. Several quit unexpectedly and left us scrambling to find a new provider, while our son was devastated because he had formed attachments to his caregivers. I realize now that these changes weren't good for him, but didn't know that then.
After college my husband attended graduate school in St. Louis and I taught elementary school music. The graduate school offered a regulated child care system where students' wives cared for other students' children. Our son's first caregiver was wonderful; she was caring and kind, and a former teacher who did many activities with the children. Our son loved her house and I was at ease leaving him there. We only had her for one school year, but I still remember the sense of security I felt knowing that my child was being well cared for when I was at work.
Our second school year in St. Louis began with a brand-new daughter, born Labor Day weekend. I spent six glorious weeks home with our children before I returned to work. I wanted to stay home but we needed my job's income and benefits. The student's wife who agreed to care for our newborn daughter and three year old son was nice, but one day she told me our eight week old daughter had cried until her face was purple. We immediately found a new caregiver; the mother of five who easily incorporated our children into her family.
The following spring we moved to New York state for my husband's internship. With only one car I wasn't able to get a job so I stayed home with our children. It was wonderful! I loved caring for our home, baking, crafting, and most of all I loved being with our children and watching them grow. We saw the value in me staying home while our children were little, but we also needed my contribution to our family income. We decided I should try family child care when we returned to graduate school.
The plan was for me to "watch children" until my husband finished graduate school. I opened the doors to my first family child care in the fall of 1993 with little more than my experience as a mom, a borrowed portable crib, and a couple of books. I loved being home with our children and knowing I was helping other families, but still planned to get a "real" job eventually. During my husband's fifth year of graduate school (my second in family child care) a second daughter was born into our family. Along with our changing family my attitude changed; I enjoyed family child care so much that I decided to continue as a family child care provider. My "in-between" job became a career!
After a brief break from family child care while we lived out East, we moved to my husband's hometown in Michigan. I became a licensed family child care provider again, and joined the Federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Since I planned to be a family child care provider indefinitely I focused on making the child care business more professional and improving my knowledge so I could provide higher quality care. The first child care conference I attended reinforced my desire to be a professional family child care provider, not just someone who "watched" children.
Our fourth child, a son, was born around the time we decided to move to my hometown in Wisconsin. There was no doubt that I would continue as a family child care provider, so we hunted for a house that would work for family child care. In October 1999 I proudly opened the doors to Amy & Kids Co. Family Child Care! I joined several professional child care organizations: Valley AEYC, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and Wisconsin Family Child Care Association (WFCCA).
Membership in the professional organizations enabled me to earn continuing education hours, attend local and statewide conferences, and even travel to Chicago for the national NAEYC conference! Around the same time I became aware of a new program for child care providers offered by Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC). This accelerated program required a weekly four-hour night of class plus an eight-hour Saturday each month; the majority of the work was done out of class. After two years of late nights and hard work I proudly graduated in May 2003 with an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education!
As a family child care provider I've held leadership roles in several early childhood professional organizations. I served Fox Valley Chapter of WECA (FVCW) in various roles from 2001 to 2022. I've presented workshops at FVCW, WFCCA, and WECA conferences, and FVTC and FVCW meetings. In 2013 I became an Adjunct Instructor in the Early Childhood department of FVTC, teaching Family Child Care Credential courses. I began teaching the same courses as an Adjunct Instructor at Waukesha County Technical College in 2020. I enjoy researching and creating workshops to present, as well as the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with other child care professionals.
In 2011 I was presented with the first WFCCA Star of the Region Award. This award is presented each year to just one family child care provider in each region for "demonstrating a commitment to children, families, and quality care." In addition I was selected to serve on the Conference Planning Committee for the 2011 WECA Conference. As the only family child care provider on the committee I represented family child care providers throughout the state of Wisconsin. I was both humbled and honored to be selected for both the committee and the award, but at the end of the day it's the sparkling eyes, bright smiles and sweet hugs of “my” children that make my day and cause me to look forward to the next one.
Although family child care plays a major role in my life, I enjoy many other activities too. I love spending time with my family, cuddling our cats, puttering in the garden, sewing various projects, and cleaning/organizing. (Yes, I'm one of "those people.") I try to keep my music talents from getting rusty by playing piano and directing weekly adult handbell choir rehearsals at our church too. If there's any extra time you'll find me curled up with a book or taking a walk with my husband.
"Any child that is part of the Amy & Kids Co. family, under the care of Amy Nogar, is a lucky one!" ~Sam & Sara
Education and experience are just two of the special qualities a family child care provider needs. My credentials list the education and experience I've acquired throughout my family child care career.
The best way to judge a child care program's success is by how well the children succeed in life. These testimonials highlight several graduates of my family child care program who are getting ahead in their lives.