A new study of early childhood education programs across the country explores different ways states and local early education programs have used their funding and resources to improve child care services. The study, Early Care and Education Partnerships: State Actions and Local Lessons, was released today by the Partnership Impact Research Project (PI), based at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and is expected to help decision-makers improve programs, especially for low-income parents, who continue to have difficulty finding accessible, high-quality child care, despite increases in public funding for these services.
The report, prepared for policymakers, program administrators, and early childhood professionals, was designed to provide user-friendly information that can inform the way that child care services are provided across the country.
“We found that when states support partnerships among local child care programs, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten (pre-K), they believe this coordination can improve the quality and accessibility of services for eligible families,” said co-author Diane Schilder. “We know how difficult it is for families, especially low-income families, to find quality child care. This study is one step toward understanding how states can expand the choices available to these parents,” Schilder said.
The year-long study highlights how states and local early education programs support local partnerships. Among the findings:
- States provide incentives, such as program grants that require partnership, increased reimbursement rates for providers in partnership who meet quality standards, and direct funding to providers in partnership.
- States pursue legal and regulatory actions such as requiring partnerships as a condition for funding.
- States take action to improve coordination among state agencies to reduce differences among programs that can become barriers to forming partnerships
To support and grow partnerships, local providers can:
- boost professional development opportunities for teachers
- offer new services and supports to parents, such as parent meetings and home visits
- develop written partnership agreements to better outline roles and responsibilities
- be sure they share a vision and philosophy of early education that can serve as a firm foundation for building and maintaining a strong partnership
- use fiscal knowledge and strategies to anticipate and to trouble-shoot issues that arise when programs blend funds and resources
“When historically separate programs blend resources to jointly deliver services, major shifts in theory and practice are required,” said EDC study co-author Ellen Kiron. “State leaders and local providers engage in this hard work believing such partnerships can ensure better services for children, address the needs of working families, and use funding more effectively,” Kiron said.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Child Care Bureau, and its findings are based on an analysis of state and local partnership data compiled by the EDC-based QUILT (Quality In Linking Together: Early Education Partnerships) project.
Originally published on March 1, 2003