When the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care decided to work together to sponsor the Early Head Start for Family Child Care demonstration project, one major goal was establishing partnerships to provide comprehensive services to young children.
The Fairfax County Office for Children had been using the Early Head Start family child care option for several years when it became a part of the project. They saw the project as an opportunity to grow their program and were especially attracted by the chance to more effectively meet the needs of low income children and families by drawing on the strengths and resources of all involved programs.
“We implemented this family child care partnership in response to our community’s need for child care during non-traditional hours and to be able to support more children in quality care” Jennifer Branch, Fairfax County Head Start/Early Head Director, said. “Family child care is an ideal option for infants and toddlers because it provides a home environment.”
The Fairfax County Office for Children understood that the EHS FCC option has the potential to drive quality, through more stringent requirements for training and curriculum. In Fairfax, OFC staff provide mentoring and technical assistance to help support providers and boost school readiness. Additionally, the staff helps parents complete paperwork and connect with child care providers. The OFC provides a vital connection to community support for everyone involved. Through the program, children receive educational screenings, health, nutritional and other social services.
The Fairfax OFC intends to continue working with early childhood stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels to align rules and policies, which will facilitate the achievement of their ultimate goal—to make things work more smoothly for all families served.
“Early Head Start and child care partnerships are essential for increasing community capacity to provide quality care for infants and toddlers,” Betsi Closter, Early Head Start for Family Child Care project director, said. “When these partnerships are in place the entire community benefits.”