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Child Care Resource And Referral Agencies: A Strategy For Ensuring Quality Care For Infants And Toddlers

July 9, 2018

The shortage of child care, across the nation, is most acute for infants and toddlers and their families.

The new Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding represents an enormous opportunity to improve access to and quality of child care for infants, toddlers, their families, and the teachers and programs that work with them. With funding from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, a project of the JB and MK Pritzker Family Foundation, the BUILD Initiative is organizing a series of webinars and blogs in partnership with ZERO TO THREE and the Center for Law and Social Policy for state policy leaders, decision makers and advocates.

By Yvette Sanchez Fuentes Deputy Chief Policy and Research
Child Care Aware of America

The shortage of child care, across the nation, is most acute for infants and toddlers and their families. And, we know from experience, it is often the most expensive due to the increased need for quality child care, which includes a well-trained workforce, higher ratios, and increased cost in infrastructure. We also know that this period of time – birth to age three – is the most critical in determining children’s long-term success and the most challenging for working families looking for child care. One option for supporting families in their search for infant and toddler child care is local-level Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs).

Since the 1980s, Child Care Resource and Referral agencies have served to support the implementation of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) at the local level. CCR&Rs have evolved to support families and communities by providing individualized services and resources for families and providers on everything from understanding policy and licensing requirements, providing information and training to both parents and providers, helping families pay for child care and, ultimately, building the supply of quality child care so that families have access to choices that work for them.

In Indiana, CCR&Rs employ infant-toddler specialists through Better Baby Care™ Indiana (BBCI), which is part of a national movement to improve child care environments and support systems for parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers. Infant-toddler specialists are available to offer consultation services and resources to both child care providers and families on a variety of issues that impact health care and development for infants and toddlers.

In Illinois, representatives with various perspectives collaborated to design an Infant-Toddler Credential specific for early childhood educators working with children zero to three. Administered through Illinois Network of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA)—the state-wide CCR&R— the system covers seven content areas (human growth and development; health, safety and well-being; observation and assessment; curriculum design; interactions, relationships and environments; family and community relationships; and personal and professional development). Focusing the content in each of these topic areas on birth to three allows for targeted learning about this critical time of development to help inform and improve the quality of care infants and toddlers receive.

The expansion of the Child Care and Development Block Grant opens many new opportunities. It is everyone’s responsibility to assure the families of infants and toddlers get support in identifying quality child care, and the providers who serve them are the best they can be. Let’s make sure we’re including effective strategies for infants and toddlers as states make key decisions about the future of their child care programs.

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