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Staffed family child care networks: A strategy to enhance quality care for infants and toddlers

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Wilcher, Holly Higgins; Gebhard, Barbara & Williamson, Suzanne
Publication Date: 
31 May 2012


The child care landscape in the United States continues to evolve, with more emphasis on quality than ever before. Research is providing greater insight into the importance of the quality of care received by infants and toddlers in family child care (FCC) settings, which offer care in the provider's home. Recent reports indicate that 29% of infants and 25% of toddlers receiving child care subsidies are cared for in an FCC home. Consequently, quality improvement initiatives that center on FCC are likely to impact the quality of care infants and toddlers receive. Studies show that FCC providers affiliated with some sort of support group offer higher quality care to infants and toddlers. To assist states and communities in their efforts to improve the quality of FCC, this paper will focus on a particular strategy that research shows to have promise-the development of staffed FCC networks.

Given the uncertain nature of the economy, quality care for infants and toddlers in FCC settings can quickly shift from being a valuable and preferred choice by families to being cost-prohibitive for families or unsustainable for providers. Moreover, we have much to learn about how best to support FCC providers in their quest to implement and sustain quality care for children under age 3. For infants and toddlers to have access to early care and learning settings that best meet their developmental needs, we must identify promising resources and practices that can strengthen quality and help states and communities sustain FCC programs.

This paper will:

  • Identify a spectrum of FCC supports and services;
  • Define staffed FCC networks and examine how they are uniquely positioned to improve the quality of care that infants and toddlers receive in FCC settings;
  • Share research about effective practices of staffed FCC networks;
  • Explore partnerships to integrate staffed FCC networks in early childhood systems;
  • Provide action steps for implementing a staffed FCC network;
  • Share examples of successful staffed FCC networks; and
  • Highlight state policy recommendations for developing and sustaining staffed FCC networks.
Entered Date: 
11 Jul 2012
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