The state’s recipe for ensuring that family child care providers are receiving individualized supports at every stage of their careers is helping to stabilize the field and meet the needs of children and families in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) has implemented and expanded staffed family child care networks (FCCNs) statewide since 2020. The initial 2018 pilot, funded by OEC, was comprised of five networks and was expanded to 12 due to strategic investment of philanthropic funding during the pandemic. The expanded network covers the entire state. A 2021 proposal established a central hub funded via the federal Child Care Development Fund.
The FCCNs provide a wide array of Network services, including connecting providers to free OEC resources such as: • coaching and consultation, including access to behavioral health experts and nurse consultants; • regularly scheduled professional development; and • group buying power via shared service agreements. Providers can also access financial supports through a partnership between OEC and the Women’s Business Development Council. This funding helps providers cover costs related to start-up, expansion, and/or quality improvements.
Finally, when state child care capacity became a concern during the pandemic, a targeted push to move potential providers through the licensing process quickly and efficiently was very successful. By utilizing a licensing toolkit developed by the Connecticut Children’s Museum and one of the networks, All Our Kin, and by providing financial incentives, an astounding 106 providers became licensed in the fall of 2020. This allowed OEC to partner with workforce development boards to quickly place children as businesses began to reopen across the state. This toolkit, still in use, continues to reduce the time it takes for interested providers to navigate the licensing process and begin to serve children and families.
To read about more strategies for expanding and strengthening family child care, read the new ZERO TO THREE brief Places for All Babies: Home-Based Child Care is an Essential Part of the Solution.