Guest blogger is Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Director, Office of Head Start.
At ACF, children and families are at the center of everything we do.
We know that the well-being of children and families is the key to healthy communities. We know that learning begins at birth and that the primary relationships, interactions, and environments that very young children experience set a foundation for growth, development, and lifelong learning. ACF services are designed to help children achieve their full potential by facilitating early learning and creating the conditions that bode well for their future success.
This week we are celebrating child care provider appreciation week and highlighting an important early childhood project – the Early Head Start for Family Child Care Demonstration Project (EHS FCC). It seemed very appropriate to share what we learned from the EHS FCC project when we are also saying “thank you” to the early care workers who make major contributions to children’s lives every day.
The EHS FCC project was an effort to build partnerships among agencies that support Early Head Start and family child care to make sure low-income children and families get the health, education and social services they need. Many areas already have high quality child care services and other strong supports. However, programs don’t always work together. For example, a toddler in an excellent family child care home may be cranky because he has a toothache that he is too young to tell anyone about. In a place where programs work together, he would have had a free or low cost dental screening at the local Early Head Start program and would have been able to enjoy his day in child care.
To maximize our limited funds, we must work to build systems that connect all early childhood efforts. Good partnerships like those between Early Head Start grantees and family child care homes as a result of the EHS FCC project support high-quality care for young children and offer parents a place to get services that help families.
Working together takes time and effort, but the outcomes—children and families whose lives have been transformed -- are worth it.