The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a Joint Guidance Document on Coordinated Efficiencies in Monitoring and Oversight of Early Care and Education Programs (PDF).
The purpose of this guidance document is to set a new vision for monitoring and oversight policy and practice within states that (a) improves the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of oversight with regard to early care and education programs; (b) creates a culture of health and safety that better supports the healthy development of children; and (c) enables states to be successful in meeting the goals of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, (P.L. 113-186), which includes monitoring many more child care providers.
The joint HHS and USDA guidance document aims to:
- Encourage states to align monitoring policies and procedures across funding streams where appropriate rather than monitoring exclusively by funding stream;
- Recommend efficiencies that could be achieved through coordination, collaboration, cross-training, differential monitoring, data sharing, and greater use of technology;
- Shift the current focus of monitoring from one of “compliance only” to “continuous quality improvement”;
- Increase access to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to promote nutritious meals and snacks for children in early care and education settings;
- Recommend a universal set of core health and safety standards that apply across programs to support the alignment of monitoring policies and procedures;
- Share examples of best practices and resources to support states in creating a culture of safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate early childhood settings; and
- Ensure that results of monitoring visits are used to target technical assistance and other supports to ensure changes in behavior and improve overall quality of service.
Promoting the safety and healthy development of children in early care and education settings is the overarching goal of monitoring. However, today’s monitoring policies are often disconnected efforts based on the individual funding streams or program type that can lead to duplication and conflict. The various funding streams, including the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), CACFP, and Head Start have different legislative requirements, but all have the same overarching goals – to ensure that our nation’s most disadvantaged children have access to what they need to promote their optimal development.
The recommendations in the guidance document (PDF) are meant to foster discussion, share some innovative state practices, and help states design the next generation of monitoring policy and practice.
Joint Monitoring Resources
- CCDF Final Regulation and related resources
- Caring for Our Children Basics: Health & Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education (Administration for Children & Families, June 2015)
- State Advisory Councils on Early Care and Education (SACs) (Administration for Children & Families and the U.S. Department of Education, September 2016)
- Mapping the Early Care and Education Monitoring Landscape Tool (PDF) (Research Brief OPRE 2016-20, March 2016)
- Best Practices for Human Care Regulation (Administration for Children & Families, Office of Child Care and the National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA), June 2015)
- Child and Adult Care Food Program Federal Regulations Visit disclaimer page (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service)
- Child and Adult Care Food Program Handbooks Visit disclaimer page (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service)
National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance
- The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations Visit disclaimer page
- The National Program Standards Crosswalk Tool Visit disclaimer page
- The CCDF Data Explorer Visit disclaimer page
- Health, Safety & Licensing Clearinghouse
- Innovation in Monitoring in Early Care and Education: Options for States Visit disclaimer page (ASPE and ACF, April 2015)
- Coordinated Monitoring Systems for Early Care and Education. (PDF) (OPRE Research Brief #2016-19. OPRE & ACF, March 2016)