Use Relationships to Support Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships

September 24, 2021

Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) have an extensive history of successfully partnering with outside organizations and businesses to respond effectively to the needs of the child care community. This history places CCR&Rs in a unique position to leverage these relationships to develop the capacity of their organizations to build, grow and assist in the implementation of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) in their communities.

The purpose of EHS-CCP is to bring together the best of two worlds by combining the strengths of child care and EHS programs. The program integrates EHS comprehensive services and resources into traditional child care and family care settings. CCR&Rs, with established relationships with providers and knowledge about the needs of their communities, are prepared to know which child care programs in their communities could benefit most by receiving additional funds and other resources to improve the quality of care.

Building the Capacity to Partner

Leveraging Local Relationships
“Leveraging relationships to create a shared vision or outcome becomes a win-win for those involved.
When you treat your relationships with care, honesty and integrity, you can really succeed.”
Bosco Anthony, 2021

Due to the relationships that CCR&Rs have with both child care and EHS, they can be the bridge between the two programs to facilitate dialogue around the shared vision of high-quality care for infants and toddlers. As building partnerships takes time, effective communication, effort, innovation, a collaborative mindset and negotiation skills, developing strong partnering skills can expand CCR&Rs’ capacity to support EHS-CCP. Partnership skills are those skills that make it possible to be successful at bridging different settings, backgrounds and work cultures of various organizations, and guiding partners to create solutions to achieve shared goals.

Advice from the field for building capacity to partner
  • Share commitments to providing quality early learning experiences to young children and their families
  • Ensure decision-makers and boards understand the benefits and risks of partnering
  • Utilize informal networks connecting the key stakeholders
  • Leverage local expertise
  • Hire staff with a collaborative mindset
  • Enhance internal systems that will support the needs of partners

Opportunities for Partnering and Capacity Building

CCR&Rs can use their existing relationships with both EHS and child care to assist in building the capacity of the local child care community to increase the supply and quality of infant toddler care.

Though the EHS-CCP program does fund slots for children at care centers, it is not really about funding slots. It is about building community-wide capacity so that all children— whether or not they are eligible for or have access to Early Head Start—do have access to a high-quality early education and the supports they need to thrive.


                • Provide coaching and professional development on quality issues to both Early Head Start and child care programs.
  • Assess the professional development needs of partners and create training opportunities to meet those needs.
  • Share the training and career progression status of staff within the partnerships
  • Capitalize on the long-standing relationships with higher education institutions to facilitate access to the Child Development Associate (CDA), as well as associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
  • Provide information and guidance to partnership leaders and staff on funding opportunities such as T.E.A.C.H. and Child Care WAGE$® in order to assist the partnership to strengthen supports for careers in early childhood education, career pathways and wage compensation.
  • Facilitate conversations between EHS, child care partners and institutions of higher education to assist in the assessment of the education needs of each partner organization in order to increase the qualifications of staff.
  • Build awareness and leverage policy changes between child care and EHS to meet the needs of children and families impacted by COVID 19. Due to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, both child care and Head Start received substantial support and financing.

Leveraging State Relationships
States provide multiple funding sources and systems to advance local program success and quality. CCDF quality funding advances this mission, and states are required to spend a portion of their CCDF funding relating to quality activities that impact infants and toddlers. States can identify and fund key stakeholders such as CCR&Rs to encourage and facilitate successful partnerships between EHS and child care programs and EHS.

CCR&Rs regularly engage and partner with state CCDF leaderships as well as Head Start Collaboration directors to capitalize on opportunities to coordinate services, leverage resources or establish partnerships.

Examples include:

  • States work with CCR&Rs to make sure low-income working families needing infant and toddler care receive information about the opportunity to enroll in EHS-CCP programs.
  • States partner with and fund CCR&Rs to assist in aligning state professional development initiatives, quality rating systems and early learning guidelines with EHS program performance standards and task them to take the lead in providing training around these alignments.
  • States fund CCR&Rs to provide coaching to support quality initiatives which includes EHS-CCP.
  • States allocate quality funds to CCR&R agencies to hire infant toddler specialists to provide training and ongoing support for specialized infant toddler care.
By capitalizing on existing relationships and ongoing work with states, CCR&Rs build their capacity to meet the needs of children and families, create opportunities to enhance services and build the supply of high-quality infant and toddler care. Together, the state, CCR&Rs, child care providers and EHS programs can support the needs of children and families in their state and local communities.

Topics: Business Operations for CCR&Rs, Capacity Building and Partnerships

Anita E. Allison

Written by Anita E. Allison

Anita E. Allison, M.Ed., is currently a Technical Assistance Specialist with Child Care Aware of America, supporting the Practice team efforts to ensure CCR&Rs, child care providers, and families are provided with information and resources to support their needs. Anita has 36 years’ experience in project management, professional development, and technical assistance in early childhood settings. She has provided project management and oversight for TTA efforts in state child care systems, state pre-K programs and Head Start.