This spring, Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) and EHS Expansion round 3 grantees are well on their way in the start up period. With the third round of EHS-CCP and EHS Expansion grants, there is a mix of grantees that are awardees from round 1 or round 2 (or both!). Grantees might be implementing new models and others might be entirely new to EHS-CCP.

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) recently released Working Together for Children and Families: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships. The report describes round 1 EHS-CCP programs, how partnerships were developed and maintained, and the activities programs implemented to deliver high-quality services.

Here, we take a look at a few of the most useful findings (there are many!) for new grantees.

“At the time of the survey, partnership grantees had a written partnership agreement with 97 percent of child care partners. Grantees developed these agreements in collaboration with partners in multiple ways (e.g., jointly with partners, with some partner input, and/or with input from a committee of partners), although no partner input was solicited in developing agreements for 32 percent of partners.”

Through our work with EHS-CCP grantees we have seen many different partnership agreements and varying levels of information included in the agreements. We strongly recommend that partner input be solicited prior to finalizing an agreement. The agreement is an opportunity to be clear about roles, responsibilities and timelines. Also consider the reporting requirements you are laying out in the agreement. Have you included fiscal reporting? Is a template and deadlines provided? Make sure child care partners have the tools they need to respond to reporting requirements, and make sure the reporting requirements will give you the information you need to track programmatic fiscal information and to identify implementation challenges.

At the time of the survey, 32 percent of grantees had terminated at least one partnership, most commonly because of issues complying with the HSPPS. The reason grantees most commonly cited for terminating partnerships with child care partners was difficulty complying with the HSPPS, followed by differences in philosophy and mission and difficulty meeting staff-child ratio and group size requirements.”

Anecdotally, we have found this to be true – compliance with HSPPS can be challenging for child care partners. This can make it difficult for grantees to maintain partnerships. As described above, a thorough and clear partnership agreement can help to lay the foundation for a successful partnership. EHS-CCP grantees can also help make sure that partners are receiving the type of support they need in order to successfully implement HSPPS quality services. Are regular meetings taking place between grantee and partner staff? Is there openness for challenges to be discussed and addressed? These are two of the most foundational questions to answer. Then, are the types of supports offered and provided sufficient for addressing the challenges? The needs of partners are likely varied, and the supports provided to partners may need to be equally as varied to ensure their success. 

The most common sources of funding to offset the cost of care for children in partnership slots other than EHS-CC Partnership grant funds were child care subsidies and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) funds. Twenty-seven percent of child care partners received child care subsidies paid by state or county governments for at least one child in their care, and 25 percent received CACFP funds to offset the cost of care for children in partnership slots.3 Overall, however, 34 percent of child care partners received funds from sources other than the grantee to offset the cost of care for children in partnership slots.”

Early in our work with EHS-CCP grantees we learned that it is often difficult for grantees to describe the costs to operate a high quality classroom – within the context of a child care partner’s business – that is compliant with HSPPS. It’s critical to determine what it actually costs to operate a classroom in your service area to serve the most needy infants and toddlers. It can be a challenging exercise, but developing a highly detailed budget capturing all possible expenses and revenues will be one of your keys to fiscal success. Just like we recommend including child care partners in development of the partnership agreement, we recommend including them in discussions about the partnership budget.

Interested to see more of what was detailed in the report? Add Working Together for Children and Families: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships to your summer reading list!

Foundations for Families has been supporting EHS-CCP grantees since the first round of competitions in 2015. Our consultants provide start up and fiscal support to help programs successfully implement the EHS-CCP model. Learn more about our services and please be in touch to learn more about how we can assist your program.

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