The decision to leave one’s child in the care of another adult is one of the most challenging and deeply personal actions a family may have to make in the early years. In 2021, there were over 11 million infants and toddlers in the United States—equaling 3.5% of the country’s population. Almost 63% of these children had mothers who were active in the workforce. (Keating, 2021). For many young families in the United States, there are very few authentic child care options that meet child and family needs, are affordable and are local.
Approximately half of families who want to access child care find it excessively difficult or impossible to secure licensed child care (Schochet, 2019). Access to high-quality infant-toddler child care is out of reach for the 40% of babies born to households with low-income (Keating, 2021), a disproportionate number of whom are babies of color (Pizarek, 2021).
The Kentucky Department of Child Care has funded Western Kentucky University (WKU) to operate a statewide Family Child Care Network that will expand and support retention of the FCC workforce across the state. Through five regional centers, the state will focus efforts on recruiting license-exempt care providers into and up through the state’s home-based care system with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of regulated home-based providers and improving quality of care provided for children and families. This project involves scaling up a successful 2-year pilot funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation targeting infant/toddler FCC providers in child care deserts across the state. The Network model involves recruiting leaders from within communities to create relationships with and provide supports to new and rising home-based providers. Initial supports will focus on business, paperwork, and marketing and include plans to engage local employers in embracing and supporting FCC programs in their own communities over time.
To read more about state strategies to strengthen home based child care read here.