Connecticut EHS FCC Program Builds State-level Partnerships
In 2010, the Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start worked together to select 22 teams throughout the country to pilot a new Early Head Start for Family Child Care model. The main goal was to develop and pilot strategies to build and support local partnerships to:
- Boost the quality of care in family child care homes for low income children
- Coordinate and expand comprehensive services for children, and
- Provide support for professional development to strengthen the knowledge and practice of child care providers
The success of the 2010 pilot led to Congress providing $500 million for a nationwide competition to implement similar partnership projects in 2014. Selected to participate in both the initial 2010 partnership pilot and also the 2014 project was an innovative model pioneered by a nonprofit in Connecticut, All Our Kin (AOK).
AOK’s mission is to increase family child care providers’ access to subsidies, training, professional development, and program improvement. They also aim to inform the community about what family child care is and how to recognize a high quality program. “We saw the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership model as a wonderful opportunity to begin a dialogue about family child care within the community and with state policymakers and administrators” said Jessica Sager, AOK executive director.
AOK engaged in a number of productive activities with good results:
- They made presentations on the project and the benefits of the EHC-FCC model at state meetings and conferences.
- The organization is now on a subcommittee of the state advisory council looking at Quality Rating Systems.
- They obtained state funding to offer training to groups across the state in using Connecticut’s Early Learning Standards for Infants and Toddlers.
- They also wrote a publication titled “What Is Family Child Care?” that provides basic information to parents and community members.
- And one key result: It is now easier to obtain information about children’s eligibility for child care services.
Currently, AOK is one of 4 networks partnering with the United Way of Greater New Haven, one of the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grantees funded in 2015 to help an additional 70 high risk infants and toddlers in the area. AOK’s model means that 20 families will have access to high quality child care as well as comprehensive services. Evaluations of AOK’s past work has shown that children benefit from higher quality settings and family child care providers benefit from supports and professional development. “It’s a real win for the community,” said Jessica Sager. AOK is working every day to show that the EHS-CCP model, particularly within family child care home settings, raises standards and holds child care providers accountable for high quality service while supplying them with incentives, training, and resources.
“This project helps to illustrate that family child care providers can meet high standards of quality, given sufficient resources,” said Janna Wagner, chief knowledge and learning officer. “It has opened the door for new ways to think about investing in quality family child care in Connecticut.”