Guest blogger is Shannon Rudisill, Director, Office of Child Care.
Everyone who works in the early childhood field has the same goal: making sure there are high quality services and supports for young children and their families. At ACF, we know that early childhood programs improve when local child care agencies work with state agencies to reach this goal. These relationships facilitate the sharing of resources and knowledge, making it easier for states, local agencies and child care providers to do their job well. Partnerships also help increase awareness of what state and local agencies do and what they can offer to support young children and their families.
One of the goals of the Early Head Start for Family Child Care Demonstration Project (EHS FCC), sponsored by the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care, was to build just these sorts of partnerships. During the project, state and local agencies discussed how they could best work together. The local lead agencies for the project highlighted the value of the EHS FCC option at state meetings and conferences and worked with a variety of stakeholders on collaboration strategies covering a wide range of early childhood issues, including those outside of the immediate boundaries of the EHS FCC project. Some EHS FCC partnership teams even built bridges with public schools to create connections between early childhood education programs and pre-kindergarten.
State and local child care teams looked specifically at aligning early childhood standards, including state licensing rules and Head Start program standards. These efforts paved the way for local child care agencies to get involved with existing state initiatives, including sharing training opportunities for providers.
We are well aware that these agency-to-agency relationships are essential to providing consistently excellent care and services for the families we serve. The Office of Child Care and the Office of Head Start look forward to continuing to promote and support collaborative efforts in any way we can.