Working Together for Children and Families: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships

March 7, 2019
Topics:
Child Care, Early Head Start
Projects:
The Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, 2013-2018 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Working Together for Children and Families Cover
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  • File Size 4mb
  • Pages 213
  • Published 2019

Introduction

High quality early learning experiences can promote young children’s development and help to reduce achievement gaps between children from low-income families and children from more affluent families. Early care and education programs also promote parents’ ability to support their children’s learning, and allow parents to work or go to school. However, affordable, high quality, child care for infants and toddlers from low-income families is scarce. One strategy for improving access to high quality care for infants and toddlers is to form partnerships at the point of service delivery to build seamless systems of care and promote quality across settings.

In 2015, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) awarded 275 Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion and EHS-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership grants. Of these, 250 grantees received funding for EHS-CC Partnerships or funding for both EHS-CC Partnerships and EHS Expansion. The EHS-CC Partnership grants support partnerships between EHS grantees and regulated child care centers and family child care homes serving infants and toddlers from low-income families. The partnerships aim to bring together the best of both programs by combining the high quality, comprehensive, relationship-based child development and family services of EHS with the flexibility of child care and its responsiveness to the social, cultural, and work-support needs of families.

To better understand the characteristics of early care and education partnerships, including the EHS-CC Partnerships, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in ACF commissioned a national descriptive study of EHS-CC Partnerships. Through a contract with Mathematica Policy Research, the national descriptive study provides a rich knowledge base about the characteristics of EHS-CC Partnerships and strategies for implementing partnerships in both center-based child care and family child care homes.

Research Questions

  1. 1 What are the characteristics of EHS-CC Partnership programs?
  2. 2 How are EHS-CC Partnership programs developed and maintained?
  3. 3 What activities do EHS-CC Partnership programs engage in to deliver high-quality services to infants, toddlers, and families?

Purpose

The purpose of this report is to document findings from the national descriptive study of EHS-CC Partnerships. It provides detailed information about the EHS and child care programs participating in EHS-CC Partnerships, as well as the activities they engaged in to develop and maintain partnerships and deliver services to infants, toddlers, and families. This is the first study of EHS-CC Partnerships to include a representative sample of the child care providers engaged in the partnerships. As such, the report has a particular focus on the perspectives of child care partners and how child care centers and family child care homes implemented partnerships. The information and lessons learned can inform ongoing and future activities of partnerships in early care and education programs as well as training and technical assistance efforts.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Most partnership grantees were nonprofit, community-based organizations with experience providing EHS or Head Start services. Some grantees partnered with both centers and family child care providers; few partnered with family child care providers only.
  • Many grantees and their child care partners had experience collaborating before the EHS-CC Partnership grant. The most frequently cited factor motivating child care partners to participate in the partnership program was improving the quality of infant and toddler care and education.
  • Though grantees and child care partners engaged in many strategies to maintain partnerships, about one-third of grantees had terminated at least one partnership by the time of the survey, which occurred about one year after ACF awarded grants. The most common reason for terminations was issues complying with the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and staff-child ratio and health and safety requirements were the most challenging standards to meet.
  • Grantees transferred slightly more than half of EHS-CC Partnership grant funds to child care partners. Partners reported many uses of these funds, including purchasing materials and supplies and providing staff training and professional development. Child care partners also leveraged funds from other sources, including child care subsidies and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Child care partners most often relied on word of mouth to recruit children and families. Most had a waiting list, and about half used a system that prioritized enrollment based on family risk or need.
  • Consistent with EHS requirements, partnership programs offered a wide range of comprehensive services to children and families who received care through EHS-CC Partnership grant funds. Many programs also offered at least one service to children and families whose care was not supported by the EHS-CC Partnership grant.
  • Partnership programs engaged in a variety of activities for improving the quality of care and ensuring child care partners were meeting the HSPPS. Most child care partners reported receiving from grantees guidance on meeting the HSPPS, support for individualizing services for families, various materials or supplies, quality monitoring activities, staff coaching and/or training, and the opportunity to obtain a Child Development Associate credential.

Methods

The national descriptive study gathered data from three sources:

  1. A web-based survey of the 250 2015 EHS Expansion and EHS-CC Partnership grantees that received funding for EHS-CC Partnership or funding for both EHS-CC Partnerships and EHS Expansion. For purposes of this study, among grantees that received funding for both EHS-CC Partnership and EHS Expansion, the study focused on the EHS-CC Partnership component of their grant only. The survey was conducted from January through July 2016; 88 percent of eligible respondents completed the survey.
  2. A web-based survey of a sample of 470 child care partners, including child care center directors and family child care providers. The study identified the child care partners using information collected from grantee directors. The survey was conducted from February through November 2016; 82 percent of eligible respondents completed the survey.
  3. In-depth data from case studies of 10 partnership programs that varied in their characteristics and approaches to implementation. The case studies, which were conducted in 2017, included in-person and telephone interviews with grantee directors and key partnership staff, child care partner staff, parents, and state and local stakeholders (such as child care administrators and child care resource and referral agency staff).

This report includes results for the 220 grantees and 386 child care partners with completed web-based surveys, as well as data collected as part of the case studies.

Citation

Del Grosso, P., J. Thomas, L. Makowsky, M. Levere, N. Fung, and D. Paulsell. (forthcoming). Working Together for Children and Families: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, OPRE Report #2019-16, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

Grantee
Organization that received an EHS-CC Partnership grant award in 2015.
Grantee director
A representative from the grantee organization that oversees the implementation of the grant.
Delegate agency
An organization to which a grantee has delegated part or all of its responsibility for operation of the EHS-CC Partnership grant (also known as a subrecipient).
Child care partner
Child care center or family child care home that partners with a grantee or delegate agency to provide services to enrolled infants and toddlers.
Partnership
The formal relationship between a grantee or delegate agency and a child care center or family child care home to provide program services to enrolled infants and toddlers.
Partnership program
A grantee or delegate agency and all of the child care partners that work together to provide services to enrolled families and their infants and toddlers.
Last Reviewed: August 1, 2019