BUILDing Strong Foundations

Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships

4/3/2014 12:00:00 AM
Posted by: BUILD Initiative

A Vital Chance to Enhance Systems of Care for Our Babies


                              

Susan Hibbard
Deputy Director     

Ruth Trombka
Program Manager
 

More than a handful of times in the last few weeks, BUILD has received emails or calls that begin with “Maybe I’m missing something, but why are you talking about state-level systems when the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) initiative is a federal to local funding opportunity?” We have rarely had a response more readily available: Because states have an obligation to our youngest children.

For more on Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, join BUILD’s EHS-CCP Live Stream event on this website on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 8-9, 2014 

While discussing federal funding opportunities can make almost anyone feel adrift on a rickety raft, the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships opportunity has us feeling securely moored. There are so many reasons someone involved in state-level systems development for young children should jump on the EHS-CCP opportunity and partner with communities to maximize this funding opportunity:

  • States are responsible for ensuring that the early childhood systems we build are of high quality and achieve equitable outcomes for all children regardless of socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, culture, or language.
  • States are responsible for supporting, creating, or directing many and varied opportunities for children with high needs and for strengthening under-resourced communities.
  • State and federal funding for infants and toddlers – the most expensive children to serve – is in short supply. Maximizing access to every dollar is essential. The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships initiative is not only focused on the youngest children, but it also offers opportunities to tap funds that can fill in the gaps not covered by state Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) subsidy.
  • The EHS-CCP initiative offers occasion for states to rethink subsidy with an eye to crafting strategies that make it possible for programs to tap and layer funding from EHS, child care subsidy, parent fees, etc. Indeed, effective state policy is key to the success of EHS-CCP.
  • Local leadership matters. Some 20 states have invested time and money in establishing local collaboratives to encourage community-based systems building as part of their statewide systems. These state/local entities can play a key role in ensuring that EHS-CC Partnerships take the long view, and become part of a larger, community-based effort focused on better outcomes for infants and toddlers.

Why Partnerships?

It may be true that partnerships are just one aspect of our complicated, fragmented, underfunded systems of support and services for infants and toddlers. But they are one way to learn more about what it takes to move out of this siloed approach to policy and finance. And when the federal government encourages partnerships with a collaborative funding request, it sends an important message to policymakers and service providers.

How Important Is It for States to Act?

The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships bring a chance for innovation: States and local communities can creatively blend and braid funding and program resources for babies from birth to three years of age while changing relationships and boundaries. If they have any question about the effectiveness of previous initiatives or they simply need inspiration, they can turn to the ZERO TO THREE paper outlining previous Early Head Start initiatives.

The BUILD Initiative does not have a set agenda or path that we urge state and community leaders to follow. It’s up to the state entities to decide what the best approach is. But it’s clear that this opportunity will only be strengthened if a state is involved in some capacity.

States might be applicants, conveners or coordinators of community-based applicants. They might provide technical assistance, use data to identify areas of high, unmet need, facilitate alignment, and/or ensure that statewide systems are leveraged. Regardless of the approach, states must partner to assure that these are not stand-alone grants. This is a chance to maximize statewide systems of care and development for young children and families.

As leaders of state systems for young children, you have always done the hard work. You ensure that all available funding streams are used as we navigate toward our shared vision of healthy births, and all children thriving at three, and successful by five and into the early elementary years. This opportunity is another such funding stream. Let’s make the most of it!

Share your thoughts in the comments section below about EHS-CCP and its potential in your state.


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