Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) announced today that it is launching the Future of Quality Child Care Initiative, an in-depth examination of how child care quality can be improved when inequities are removed, parent preferences are affirmed, and all providers are valued equally.
CCAoA approaches this topic with a level of curiosity and purpose in service to a moment where the transformation of the child care system is at hand. It is urgent and required for re-envisioning equity within a system that is currently inequitable. The initiative’s goal is to clarify what quality means for early childhood education across provider settings, including home-based care and care offered during non-traditional hours. It will include an analysis of the pandemic’s impact on care and will be informed by input from child care providers, educators, parents, children, employers and other organizations.
CCAoA will publish policy, research and practice recommendations on professional development and learning, resource allocation, provider capacity building, quality rating and improvement, and licensure beginning in the summer of 2022. This work will help policymakers, advocates and providers better understand how to create measures of quality that are equitable and benefit both children and the child care field.
“Child Care Aware of America is well-positioned to lead this initiative on quality in child care as an intermediary with expertise at the federal and state levels and with a national network of Child Care Resource and Referral agencies that work directly with providers,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware® of America. “Policy incentives for quality care do not always reflect the hard work of early educators, particularly educators and providers of color. This initiative will call attention to how high-quality child care must honor the racial and ethnic diversity of our nation, the voices and true needs of children and families, and the daily contributions of educators and providers.”
The pandemic has made it even clearer that access to quality, affordable child care is an economic, gender and racial justice issue, and the Future of Quality Child Care initiative seeks to address the dimensions of race, income, language and other barriers within existing systems. This initiative is a continuation of work that CCAoA began in the summer of 2020 with a webinar series on “Racial Justice, Equity and the Role of Child Care.” It is also aligned with CCAoA’s membership in the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights as the only coalition member with an exclusive focus on child care and early learning.
“The cradle of our society--our babies--is not exempt from the effects of bias and prejudice. Our early education system is housed in biases and prejudices and as our young children move through this system, the impact is devastating,” said Fannie Glover, Director, Equity & Inclusion at the Early Care & Learning Council and member of CCAoA’s Board of Directors. “I am hopeful because CCAoA has taken on the role of the ‘voice crying in the wilderness’ against policies and discriminatory practices that set our BIPOC children on a pathway to a lesser quality of life. Here in New York, we’ve been intentional in the work with our Child Care Resource & Referral network as well as collaborating with our like-minded partners in the early education space. I am excited that CCAoA is taking on this role as a change agent on the national stage.”
“Quality child care is the foundation for America's prosperity and racial equity,” said Kelvin Chan, Ph.D., Managing Director of Early Childhood at Robin Hood and member of CCAoA’s Board of Directors. “Not only do we need to regard quality child care as a basic public good, it needs to be more widely recognized as the mechanism that gives every child a fair chance to achieve future success.”
The initiative will also address challenges in the design, measurement and funding of quality improvement measures that prevent equitable access to high-quality child care. Roughly half of all infants and toddlers who require non-parent care are cared for in home-based settings. The majority of those young children are in family, friend and neighbor (FFN) care settings. FFN providers are typically legally exempt from licensure, and as a result are often overlooked in the design of and investments in quality standards and systems.
In addition, several state systems for monitoring and assessing quality in child care programs provide financial incentives for providers to attain certain measures of quality (also known as quality rating and improvement systems, or QRIS). However, those systems have not demonstrated a link between the currently included quality measures and improved child outcomes. More concerning, significant portions of home-based BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) providers do not participate in QRIS. This means that QRIS currently fails to capture many forms of quality care and it does not reflect the input of all types of providers. At this pivotal moment for child care and early learning, the Future of Quality Child Care Initiative will play an important role in shaping quality rating systems as they evolve and change.
“Research shows that children who attend high-quality early childhood programs have more positive long-term outcomes,” said Walter S. Gilliam, Ph.D., Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale School of Medicine, and member of CCAoA’s Board of Directors. “What’s truly special about this initiative is that it will include the voices of all types of providers, who are too often not included, and the voices or expressions of children, including infants and toddlers.”
“Quality, at its heart, does not reside in paperwork or measurements, but is found in the relational experiences of children, families and teachers,” said Junlei Li, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Co-Chair of the Human Development and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and member of CCAoA’s Board of Directors. “Yet, the way we measure, document and improve quality has a real impact on the ways children are seen, families are heard and teachers are respected. As a field, we can commit ourselves to appreciate and understand the many ways of providing quality early childhood care and education – and the many different people and places that embody such quality.”
For more information on the Future of Quality Child Care Initiative, please contact LearnMore@usa.childcareaware.org.