The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) initiative is a unique opportunity for Early Head Start (EHS) and child care programs to partner to meet the needs of children and families in the community. We suggest you begin your Round 2 planning with a reflection on some of the differences between EHS operations and community child care business practices. Doing so will help you to plan for, communicate about, and overcome challenges before they become barriers to implementation.
The key differences between child care business practices and EHS operations include:
Who is served. While both serve infants and toddlers, EHS also serves pregnant women. The age definition for toddlers may also not be the same. EHS also has a specific focus on serving children with disabilities (10%) and children from families living at or below poverty. Partner child care programs will need to shift their frame of reference to serve pregnant women and children with disabilities. Grantees should acknowledge the impact that the toddler age cut off will have on ratios.
Sources of funding. Community-based child care is often funded by many different sources and most fees are paid at the time of service or after. Alternatively, EHS runs almost entirely on federal funds and there are never parent fees. Most funds are received in advance or at the time of service. Partner child care programs will benefit from federal funding that is reliable and comes in advance of services being provided. Grantees should be aware of erratic partner funding that often comes at or after care takes place.
Applicable standards. The most significant difference between child care and EHS is that child care parter programs will have to meet Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) as part of their participation in EHS-CCP. Grantees should be aware that this may seem overwhelming to their child care partners.
Infant/toddler rations and group size. EHS ratios are 1:4 and group size is limited to 8. In community-based child care, ratios are almost always greater than 1:4 and group size may not be clearly defined. Partners may need to reduce the number of infants and toddlers served in EHS classrooms.
Teaching Staff Requirements. Requirements for teaching staff in child care programs vary from state to state. In EHS, one teaching staff that meets teacher requirements must be available per four infants/toddlers. Child care partners will need qualified teaching staff all day. Grantees should be aware that EHS-qualified teaching staff will be more expensive for child care partners. These staff can also be harder to find, train, and retain.
What the program does. Services provided by community-based child care programs vary widely, and often focus on providing structured activities and care to young children. Transportation may or may not be provided and snacks and meals may be provided on-site or by families. EHS focuses on responsive care with a primary caregiver, includes comprehensive services, referrals, family engagement, and screening and assessments. Child care partners may have to adjust to the comprehensive model of EHS and the clear focus on goals, measurement, and monitoring.
Role of parents. EHS is grounded on meaningful participation among parents and a program’s Policy Councils include 51% representation of parents. The role of parents in community-based child care varies and may be focused on drop-off/pick-up, coordination of children’s basic needs, and arranging payment. Child care partners may have to shift their thinking about family engagement to a more comprehensive approach where parents are partners and have power (e.g. Policy Council).
Remember that EHS and child care partners also have similarities. The most important similarity is a strong commitment to the families and children in the community. This is the foundation on which a strong partnership can be built!
On April 5, 2016 we will hold webinar #8 of the weekly webinar series: Expansion/Partnership Grant Writing Tips: 10 Things You Need to Be Doing Right Now to Make Your Grant Writing Experience More Efficient. (We offered this webinar in February and are repeating it live.) Register to join us on Tuesday, April 5, 1:30-2:15pm EST.
Foundations for Families offers EHS-CCP grantees targeted technical assistance and strength-based coaching of key start-up staff. We have helped multiple organizations design, plan for, and draft successful proposals for the first round of EHS-CCP and plan to offer the same expertise for any new opportunities. Please be in touch with Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at 703-599-4329 or [email protected] to learn about how we can support you and your program.