Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grant funding provides a unique opportunity for Early Head Start (EHS) grantees to partner with child care programs (center-based and family child care) in their community. Certainly there are EHS and Head Start (HS) grantees that contract with community-based child care programs to deliver early learning services, though these are often referred to as “purchase of slots” and are not quite the same intention as EHS-CCP. EHS-CCP is centered on meaningful partnership relationships. In 2015 the Office of Head Start (OHS) released an Information Memorandum, Policy and Program Guidance for the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (issued 8/6/2015) that established five long-term outcomes of the grant program:
- Sustained, mutually respectful, and collaborative EHS-CCP
- A more highly educated and fully qualified workforce to provide high-quality infant/toddler care and education
- Increased community supply of high-quality early learning environments and infant/toddler care and education
- Well-aligned early childhood policies, regulations, resources, and quality improvement support at national, state, and local levels
- Improved family and child well-being and progress toward school readiness
The high quality programming and expertise of EHS grantees is leveraged to help child care partners not just serve infants and toddlers, but to focus extensively on elevating and sustaining program quality. To successfully serve EHS infants and toddlers in child care programs, and to provide quality comprehensive services meeting the needs of working families, EHS-CCP grantees and child care partners must think about their partnership as a long-term relationship that requires careful planning.
The child care partner selection process should encompass candid, detailed discussions about the specific outcomes of the grant, program goals and objectives and EHS requirements. We recommend discussions include dialogue about how EHS-CCP areas align with your state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), early learning standards, or other parts of the state system that impact program quality. Assess the changes that will need to take place for a potential child care partner to achieve requirements and desired outcomes of EHS-CCP. Your assessment should include a detailed fiscal analysis to determine the ‘cost per child’ to accomplish these goals. Know your numbers going into the partnership so that there aren’t any surprises.
Selecting your child care partners is important! Make sure you have all of your questions answered before engaging in a formal partnership. Remember, once agreements are formalized you will probably be investing funds in remodeling partners’ centers/homes. This is a significant investment from the very beginning. How ready are you to select and finalize child care partners just a few weeks from getting your notice of award? This month we will provide guidance for selecting child care partners and best practices to help ensure successful partnerships.
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 EHS-CCP. 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.
Linda Dunphy, under Foundations for Families, Inc. provided invaluable and top shelf quality 12-month strategic guidance in all areas of launching our new EHS-CCP grant particularly in the context of being a brand new Head Start grantee. I honestly don’t know if we would have succeeded through the start up period without her week to week, month to month goal setting, tactical guidance and tools, as well as her recommendations for program and fiscal design changes that proved pivotal to the viability of this expansion 12 county, multiple child care partner program. It was hugely complex to get the program into place from facilities to staffing to contracts to governance. Having Linda be in the start-up planner role working with us at every step proved our wisest decision.
Julia-Ellen Davis, Interim Director
SC First Steps to School Readiness; SC Early Childhood Advisory Council