Policy Resource

Supporting Access to Quality Early Care and Education

Dec 18, 2012

How to increase the supply and access to quality early care and learning opportunities for the youngest children is a constant conundrum in the early childhood field.

Such opportunities may be out of reach for many families whose children could benefit most. Searching for quality settings for babies is enough to send any parent into a frenzy. Research and evidence-based practices that point to how providers may better serve the nation’s youngest children can help us address this conundrum by expanding proven approaches and raising the quality of existing settings.

We know that in the search for early care and learning settings, parents want good, accessible choices. Furthermore, we know that the nature of the relationship between a child and her caregivers is essential to the developing brain. It is especially crucial for very young children to have positive early learning experiences that unfold within strong relationships with caring and nurturing adults. High quality early care and learning opportunities for infants and toddlers—especially those who are most at-risk—play an important role in their future success.

Two new ZERO TO THREE policy briefs examine ways to build on and improve aspects of our existing early care and learning system to help expand availability and access to high quality programs. One brief focuses on ways to build on Early Head Start (EHS), which supports infants, toddlers, and pregnant women from low-income families—those most vulnerable during harsh economic times. The other looks at ways to enhance family child care (FCC), where many infants and toddlers are found.

Read the synopses below and download each brief for more information:

Staffed Family Child Care Networks

ZERO TO THREE also published Staffed Family Child Care Networks: A Strategy to Enhance Quality Care for Infants and Toddlers. This paper examines how staffed family child care (FCC) networks are uniquely positioned to improve the quality of care that infants and toddlers receive in FCC settings. It lists effective practices and shares examples of successful staffed FCC networks. The paper offers guidance for how states can maximize partnerships to integrate staffed FCC networks in early childhood systems. It concludes with action steps and state policy recommendations for implementing a staffed FCC network.

Expanding Access to Early Head Start

In September, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and ZERO TO THREE released Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk. This publication highlights how states are using innovative funding, policies, and partnerships to expand the critically important Early Head Start program to better meet the needs of more low-income children and pregnant women. Twenty-three states currently have at least one initiative that builds on the federally-funded EHS program.

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