The vision for Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe's participation in the Early Head Start for Family Child Care (EHS FCC) demonstration project was to increase both the number of providers and quality of infant and toddler care for the tribe's children and their families. Leech Lake's plan was to build awareness and community support for the project, review the resources that were already available for infants and toddlers, and put the Early Head Start for Family Child Care option into action within the tribal service area.
"Having an opportunity to develop programming that further meets the needs of children and families is of major importance for us," said Lee Turney, director of youth/early childhood development.
To accomplish their goals, the partnership team hosted a series of local events to inspire interest in the project and to provide some of the basic training that providers would need as they began to provide Early Head Start in their family child care homes.
Leech Lake hosted their first Annual Leech Lake Infant and Toddler Fair. The purpose was to introduce the EHS FCC project to family child care providers and to help them connect potential partners among local agencies. Following up on this activity, the team created a survey to get to know the early care community better and conducted a training event in which the similarities and differences between Early Head Start and family child care were considered. Leech Lake also provided local training as a part of the demonstration project and focused on the importance of high quality child care experiences for infants and toddlers.
Leech Lake is continuing to support the providers who are now providing Early Head Start in their family child care homes. The partner agencies remain committed to building the capacity and quality of services provided to the children and families in their community using the strong local partnerships they have built.
"The future of the EHS-FCC option is exciting and appears to be a program option that the providers are extremely interested in and parents share the same enthusiasm," Turney said. "We plan on building the capacity of the FCC providers so that if this opportunity arises in the future they're prepared to participate right away."