Relationships That Matter: Utilizing National Organizations to Support Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies’ (CCR&Rs) Work on SFCCNs

September 21, 2022

In this final blog of CCAoA’s Staffed Family Child Care Network (SFCCN) series, several national organizations that focus their work on SFCCN are highlighted to support the work being done in CCR&R agencies. You can find the first and second blogs in this series here and here.

In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health impacts of the pandemic. It includes funding for states, Head Start programs and other Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs to invest in recruiting, supporting and retaining staff. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published guidance for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) administrators that strongly encourages the use of ARP Act funds to increase payments, compensation and benefits for the ECE workforce.

Recommended strategies to support the ECE workforce within the ARP include:

  1. Increase staff wages or provide one-time incentives
  2. Provide benefits including paid leave, health insurance, child care and retirement benefits
  3. Fund scholarships and time off for professional development or programs that lead toward a credential or degree
  4. Expand family child care networks, shared services models and substitute pools
  5. Provide staff wellness support

These strategies encourage State CCDF Administrators and other early childhood leaders to continue to use federal resources that have been made available to them to increase staff compensation, strengthen ECE professional development and career pathways, and invest in other strategies to recruit and retain a strong ECE workforce. The fourth item on the list supports using the promising practice of family child care networks/SFCCNs as a strategy to support the Home-Based Child Care (HBCC) workforce. Research has shown that SFCCN can be a mechanism for the other strategies to be implemented. Shared services offered by a SFCCN can include tracking benefits, offering low-cost health insurance pools and retirement benefits. They can be the holder and distributor of scholarship programs and offer opportunities for staff wellness, such as mental health consultation and opportunities for peer engagement to reduce feelings of isolation.

To address this specific strategy there are several national organizations that have been focusing their work on SFCCNs as a promising practice. These organizations began to expand and conduct research and produce resources, as well as extend their outreach to local and state organizations interested in designing and implementing SFCCNs, including CCR&Rs. CCR&Rs can partner with these national organizations to support their efforts to develop or enhance SFCCN services in their local communities. Working with organizations specializing in SFCCNs offers the opportunity to advance the common purpose of supporting the HBCC workforce. Partnering presents advantages to broaden the reach and impact SFCCN services will have by improving the offerings provided to HBCC. Some advantages include:

  • Furthering goals of engaging and sustaining HBCC participation in the workforce
  • Being a voice for sustainable policies and practices in HBCC programs
  • Offering and contributing to current and developing resources and research regarding SFCCNs
  • Bringing experts and expertise to planning and the development of SFCCNs
  • Offering new perspectives and direction for examining the effectiveness of SFCCNs
  • Promoting SFCCNs as an initiative to address equity issues
  • Technical assistance facilitated by experts in SFCCNs

Partnering with national organizations also allows CCR&R staff to learn from collaborating with other professionals, growing in their knowledge and gaining new perspectives. Outside professionals, consultants, trainers and Technical Assistance (TA) specialists from national organizations that support SFCCNs have much knowledge and expertise to share about engaging HBCC providers in quality improvement initiatives while also addressing the decline in HBCC providers.

Effective partnerships with national organizations that support SFCCNs are unique in scope and reach, but they all require open communication, shared commitment to high-quality HBCC, willingness to learn, flexibility and honoring the shared purpose of SFCCN. Leveraging national organizations that focus their efforts on SFCCN can only benefit the HBCC workforce and expand CCR&Rs’ capacity to specifically focus on building connections and support for the home-based workforce.

National Organizations:

National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance (NCECQA)

The National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance (NCECQA), a program of ICF, is a part of the Child Care Technical Assistance Network (CCTAN) which is designed to build early childhood program capacity and promote consistent practices across communities, states, territories and Tribes. As one of the National Centers that make up CCTAN, the NCECQA supports state and community leaders and their partners in the planning and implementation of approaches to quality in all early care and education settings for children from birth to school age.

One role of NCECQA is the use of collaborative approaches to support the development and enhancement of state quality initiatives. SFCCN is one quality initiative for which the NCECQA has developed resources. These resources include briefs, infographics, tools and webinars to assist in creating an understanding of the importance of SFCCNs and to begin or expand SFCCNs. Many highlighted resources and tools can be found on their main webpage with specific resources related to SFCCNs found here, including a Technical Assistance Manual and a Cost Estimation Tool.

Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA)

Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) is our nation’s leading voice for child care. CCAoA works with a national network of more than 400 child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&Rs) and other partners to ensure that families in every local community have access to quality, affordable child care. To achieve this mission, CCAoA leads projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, offers comprehensive training to child care professionals, undertakes groundbreaking research and advocates for child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families.

CCAoA provides resources and support to advance child care capacity building. The Child Care Systems Building team at CCAoA has developed multiple resources on SFCCNs that include a series of blogs focused on the benefits and workforce supports that SFCCNs offer. Other resources include webinars on the topic and a Resource Compilation designed to point CCR&Rs to additional research, articles and toolkits specific to SFCCNs. You can find the first and second blogs in this series here and here, with additional information found on the website

National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting high-quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care. It is the only national system designed for HBCC providers. NAFCC strengthens the profession by advocating for the needs of practitioners and the families they serve, providing an identifiable national voice for all members and promoting a professional accreditation credential which recognizes and encourages high-quality care and education in home-based settings.

Accreditation is awarded for HBCC providers who meet the eligibility requirements and the Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation. HBCC providers achieve this high level of quality through a process that examines all aspects of the family child care program, i.e., relationships, the environment, developmental learning activities, safety, health and professional and business practices.

NAFCC’s professional accreditation program often serves as a cornerstone in state professional development systems. As one focus of SFCCNs is quality-building support, these networks can be a mechanism by which information is shared about NAFCC accreditation. They can highlight national recognition for family child care programs that are meeting the highest standards for HBCC programs that conduct business in their communities. SFCCNs may also play a role in a provider moving through the phases of the accreditation process by providing opportunities to reflect with their peers about how their practices are already in line with NAFCC Quality Standards, and how they can work to achieve the standards. Additional information can be found on their website here.

Home Grown

Home Grown is a national collaborative of funders committed to the mission of increasing access to and enhancing the quality of home-based child care. 

Home Grown funds, champions and promotes programs and initiatives that stabilize and expand home-based child care services. They deliver resources and learning supports to children and their caregivers; improve the capabilities of caregivers to deliver effective home-based services; promote the value and importance of home-based child care; and support the adoption of model policies that enhance the sector. Home Grown seeks to remove policy barriers, strengthen home-based child care practices and business models, and support the growth and recognition of the sector so that all providers offer quality care and parents choose quality care.

In Home Grown’s vision, comprehensive networks are a crucial mechanism to conduct the mission of increased access and enhanced quality for HBCC. These comprehensive networks may take many forms, such as SFCCNs, CCR&Rs, shared service alliances, associations and more. Regardless of the entity type, Home Grown supports comprehensive networks as the durable infrastructure positioned to tackle the big issues facing the home-based child care sector: quality; building supply and retaining existing high-quality operators; and connecting providers and families to additional services. Home Grown has many resources available to support CCR&Rs’ work. Research briefs, toolkits, blogs and articles are located in the resources section of their website. One section focuses on Building Comprehensive Networks, which includes a Home-Based Child Care Networks brief, an Action Plan Template, a Network Checklist for state and local administrators, and an Evaluation Toolkit. You can find these resources here.

All Our Kin

All Our Kin (AOK) is a national nonprofit organization that trains, supports and sustains family child care educators. Its mission is to transform the nation’s child care system that results in a triple win: child care providers succeed as business owners; working parents find stable, high-quality care for their children; and children gain an educational foundation that lays the groundwork for achievement.

AOK trains and advises partner organizations across the country to strengthen their engagement and practice with family child care providers. AOK has two decades of experience building and
strengthening family child care networks. Their work stresses that a robust network must include eight critical components in order to support family child care providers effectively. AOK seeks to build the capacity of organizations across the country to effectively increase the supply, quality and sustainability of family child care. One approach is supporting agencies and communities in developing and launching staffed family child care networks. These capacity-building offerings are highly individualized and range from standalone presentations by the AOK team (either on-site or at one of AOK’s locations), to one-on-one consulting, to an in-depth, multi-stakeholder design process. A variety of resources and publications are available on their website. You can find examples here.

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.