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Sponsor Spotlight: Blake Stanford of Southwest Human Development Services

Sponsor of Family Child Care Homes

February 26, 2024

Blake Stanford is the President of Southwest Human Development Services located in Austin, Texas. The Southwest Human Development Services is a sponsoring organization (sponsor) of Family Child Care Homes that serves most of Texas.  

While in a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Texas, Blake did a summer college internship as a program reviewer for the USDA Summer Food Service Program at the Texas Department of Human Services which led to a contract job offer to do reviews for the National School Lunch Program and Special Milk Program. While working for TDHS, a CACFP sponsoring organization was shut down, leaving many homes in south Texas without a sponsor. Seeing that there was a service gap that needed to be filled, Blake and his colleague, Karen Rocha, took the initiative and founded their own sponsoring organization in 1985.  Starting with 50 homes in the Austin area, Southwest Human Development Services has grown to serve over 850 homes across Texas.

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Blake is proud of the organizational reputation that Southwest Human Development Services has established about protecting the integrity of the program. As an organization, they are very compliance focused and providers are aware of that, which Blake believes helps their business.  

Another reason Blake believes the organization is successful is because they provide a lot of support, technology, and training for their staff and their providers to do their jobs effectively. 

“You have to set the tone at the top in terms of what your expectations are from the staff and your child care providers. I think training is critical and I think we do a really good job at that. I think what makes us successful and what my goal has always been, is to offer the best service to our clients. So, we’re really customer service oriented. Our phones don’t ring that much, which tells me that we’re providing them with the sort of materials and the kind of training that they need to be successful.”  

As a result of all the training they do, Blake is happy to say that their providers are performing well, making their job as a sponsor much easier. 

From Blake’s perspective, the CACFP not only benefits providers financially, as food is the highest operating cost for many providers, but it also has a great nutritional benefit. He references that research has shown that CACFP meals are higher quality than parent provided meals. He thinks the main benefit of CACFP is that it helps to create a healthier population of children, who have learned to eat a variety of foods, have had consistency in their diets and nutrition, and are ready for school.  

“Nutritionally, the children are getting higher quality meals through CACFP which is related to health and brain development and all of those developmental markers for kids. I think that makes the CACFP a public health program. It’s not just a nutrition program, It’s a public health program. We’ve heard people say, ‘food is medicine,’ well it is true.” 

Making a difference in children and providers’ lives is what keeps Blake motivated to continue working with the CACFP. He also wants to make sure that the program continues to be administered at a high level of standard that promotes public confidence in the use of federal funds. Blake sees himself as a steward of federal funds which he holds as a professional standard, as well as representing who he is ethically. He also believes that his organization is a leader in promoting compliance and understanding of the program. Blake works with partners to ensure that everyone is working together cohesively, knows their role, and are compliant. 

After being a part of the NCA Board of Directors since 2002, Blake is reaching the end of his volunteer service at the end of this year. As this closes the book for his board service, he sees this as a great milestone and is pleased with everything he has done to build the organization. He sees his contribution to the NCA Board as one of the highlights of his professional career and a great success. 

In Austin, Texas, Blake has worked at Southwest Human Development Services since 1985.