Family Child Care And State Pre-Kindergarten Programs
Aug 14, 2008
As states create and expand their pre-kindergarten programs, a key question is who can be a provider of the program. While some states limit the program to public schools, most include some community-based providers in an effort to expand access to the program for working families and to build the quality of these programs.
However, states are still struggling with ways to include family child care providers into their programs. While data shows that many children are served in these settings, especially children from low-income families, pre-kindergarten programs are often set up to require a traditional classroom model and exclude family child care.
Several successful models have emerged that include the children in family child care programs in state pre-kindergarten programs. Illinois Action for Children has published a new report that summarizes the success of one promising model, known as the Community Connections Preschool Model. In this program, children in regulated and unregulated home-based child care and their providers are included in the state pre-kindergarten program.
State-Funded Preschool and Home-Based Child Care: The Community Connections Model describes the model, in which preschool aged children in home-based care settings are transported to a half-day center-based preschool program. The home-based providers receive supports through project coordinators, who provide monitoring and technical assistance to the centers and to the home-based providers.
Several features have been critical to the success of the model, including an agreement with the state child care subsidy office to continue to provide a full-day subsidy to providers when children are in the state pre-kindergarten program. The project has shown significant benefits, for children and for providers, and other states may wish to replicate its successes as they move ahead with state pre-kindergarten implementation.