Goals for EHS-CC Partnerships that Meet the Needs of Low-income Families
By Stephanie Schmit
With the inclusion of funding for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships in the most recent omnibus spending bill, many folks are wondering what they are, who can participate and what will be required of applicants. The Administration has taken quick action by launching a new website just last week to ensure that those who are curious and ready to get started can get the information that they need. The website will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. It currently explains what the partnerships will provide, who is eligible to participate, and how the funds will be awarded.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will be issuing a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to provide instructions and criteria to those interested in applying for an EHS-CC partnership grant. CLASP submitted a set of recommendations to ACF based on the following goals to ensure that the partnerships meet the needs of low-income, vulnerable families:
- Reach the Greatest Number of High-Needs Infants and Toddlers with Comprehensive Services. Early Head Start is designed to provide comprehensive early childhood education services to poor infants and toddlers. EHS-CC partnerships should reach the greatest number of vulnerable children, especially those who may be particularly underserved due to language barriers or immigrant status.
- Expand Full-day, Full-year Services for Working Families. Parents need child care to go to work and support their families. Partnership funds should reach children in child care settings in order to improve access to quality care for those who need full-day and full-year child care.
- Support Continuity of Care. EHS provides more continuity than child care subsidies because children who are eligible for EHS can remain in the program regardless of changes in parental income or work status. Continuity of care is extremely important for young children’s development and should be a standard practice for both EHS and child care programs participating in the partnerships; children should remain eligible for partnerships until age 4, regardless of changes in household circumstance and as long as they stay with the same provider.
- Improve the Skills and Compensation of the Child Care Workforce. Most states do not fund child care subsidies at the level needed to support child care providers in meeting high-quality standards. Partnerships provide an important opportunity to offer increased monetary and non-monetary resources for child care providers serving low-income children and should include increased compensation for caregivers and access to education, training and professional development.
- Implement Well-Planned Partnerships. It is critical that in an effort to reach as many children as possible in a short amount of time that the importance of planning and thoughtful execution is not overlooked. The first year of partnerships should allow for start-up time and resources to bring partners together to fully plan a successful model.
The EHS-CC partnerships provide an unprecedented opportunity to expand high-quality child care for low-income infants and toddlers. By designing the partnerships and the FOA with the above goals in mind, we can ensure that more vulnerable children and families receive high-quality early education and comprehensive services to help them grow and thrive.