We are delighted to introduce Linda Dunphy, guest blogger, for our weekly feature: Model Monday.  She’ll share useful insight into promising models of partnership between Early Head Start grantees and community-based child care providers.  In most cases, these will be models highlighted by ACF’s Office of Head Start and/or the Office of Child Care. Please don’t miss Linda’s White Paper on this week’s model, All our Kin, Inc. (AOK).

Too often, we hear murmurs in the Head Start community that partnering with family child care providers is “too complicated”, “too costly” and “not worth the risk”…an unappealing journey that will not serve the best interests of infants and toddlers.

Well, that may be true for some communities and states but not all.

In Connecticut, partnerships between EHS grantee agencies and family child care providers are now more sustainable and common in large part due to a forward thinking and innovative nonprofit agency All Our Kin, Inc. (AOK).

What I particularly admire is AOK’s long standing commitment to their role as change agent at the local to state level to create recognition, funding, and professional supports for family child care providers.  They blend and braid private and public funding to ensure full day care and professionalism for providers. AOK is the only organization in Connecticut—and one of a handful in the country—to address both workforce development and child care simultaneously.

I heard from the impressive AOK co-founder, Jessica Sager (Women in Business Champion of the Year for Connecticut, U.S. Business Administration – 2012) at last year’s Shared Services Technical Conference.  At a well-attended Head Start panel, she highlighted AOK’s success in increasing the number, quality and sustainability of family child care business owners partnering with Early Head Start programs.

So what else elevates AOK as an exemplary model site for the new Early Head Start- Child Care Partnership funds?

First, I encourage you to read the Mathematica’s 2010 Evaluation Report on the Early Head Start – Family Child Care Partnership pilot project.  AOK was one of the 22 pilot programs.  The project’s purpose was to design, implement, and evaluate a replicable framework to support partnerships between Early Head Start and family child care providers.  It’s a highly useful resource for anyone interested in forming partnerships between Early Head Start and family child care.   Be sure to put on your reading list – its long (mostly appendices) yet chockfull of examples of interesting partnership strategies from the micro to the macro levels.

Interestingly, all 22 programs noted the importance of a structured planning process with the use of a neutral facilitator to help them sort through the complex local to state partnership leveled systems-based initiatives.  See Page XIV of report.  Too many agencies skip this important part of program development!

AOK was impressive among its peers in the pilot project.  It was ready and willing to embrace the Head Start Program Performance Standards and integrate them fully into their partnerships with family child care providers.

In the accompanying white paper on this model, I’ve outlined 9 micro and 7 macro level keys to AOK’s success.  Everything from developing a Family Child Care Network, to offering a higher than typical rate per child, to successful advocacy to align child care subsidy and EHS eligibility – you’ll want to understand and, perhaps, replicate AOK’s successful strategies.

Still on the fence?  Consider this: internal evaluations using research-based observational tools show that after taking part in AOK’s program and services, 97% of family child care programs demonstrated significant increases in quality.

Is it any wonder this is a fabulous model was highlighted by ACF’s Office of Child Care?

Trail blazing leadership has made All Our Kin a shining star among those committed to transforming the landscape of family child care providers and, ultimately, the quality of care they provide to the children they serve, especially infants and toddlers.   Be sure to draw upon AOK’s best practices and lessons learned as you consider embarking on applying for the new EHS-CC Partnership funds.

I look forward to sharing another model for successful partnerships next Monday.

Sincerely, Linda

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Whether your agency might apply to be an EHS-CC Partnership grantee or your child care program is a solid partnership candidate, there’s a lot to consider.  We can help analyze the opportunity, prepare a competitive grant proposal, or design and implement a high quality 18-month start up plan.  If we can’t, we will connect you with the right resources to support your efforts.  Give us a call to discuss your situation: 703-599-4329 or augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com

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