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).
A growing movement has elevated the importance of including the voices of those most impacted by state policies and programs in their development and implementation. One state that has embedded an ongoing two-way communication cycle in their work with FCC providers for many years is Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) Family Child Care Workgroup engages FCC providers across the state in five regularly scheduled meetings per year. The OCDEL team shares new initiatives, encourages feedback and regularly vets decision making with this group in an ongoing and respectful process. FCC providers who regularly attend the meetings take messages to and solicit feedback from their peers who are unable to attend so that information reaches a large cross region group of providers. This feedback loop has helped to shape the state’s Quality Rated and Improvement Systems changes, technical assistance delivery methods and COVID Relief Fund spending, among other things. For instance, the state learned that providers really needed basic technology skill building to access supports, so technical assistance consultants changed their approach and included technology skill building as part of their regular visits with providers. The open line of communication allows state early learning leaders to ensure that clear information is reaching providers and helps to dispel misinformation that may make its way to providers via other channels.
To read more about state strategies to strengthen home based child care read here.