Anticipating potential growth of state pre-k programs, state policymakers should consider a number of approaches to protect and expand the existing infant-toddler child care infrastructure. Beyond limiting harm to infant-toddler programs, state leaders could take the opportunity to invest in a birth-5 system that equitably supports high quality services for infants and toddlers and preschool-age children.
States have the option to use CCDF funding to provide contracts directly to providers, in addition to offering subsidies that allow for parent choice. This approach can help to fill gaps in the supply of high-quality infant-toddler child care. Pennsylvania’s Infant Toddler Contracted Slots program provides one-year contracts to high-quality programs serving infants and toddlers, with a higher rate of payment than they would receive through the traditional subsidy program. To promote continuity of care from birth to five, only programs that also participate in the state funded pre-k program are eligible to participate. An evaluation of the program pilot found positive effects in areas such as provider financial stability, stable enrollment, and program quality.
To read more about state strategies to strengthen infant-toddler care, while expanding pre-K read here.