High-Quality FCC as a Supply-Building Strategy for Infants and Toddlers

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Article – Family Child Care as a Strategy

child care provider reading to two children The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 and the publication of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Final Rule provide both incentive and opportunity for States and Territories to use high-quality family child care (FCC) as a supply-building strategy for infants and toddlers. The CCDF Final Rule sets forth key changes for improving infant and toddler child care services, including a new 3 percent quality set-aside (45 C.F.R. § 98.50(b)(2), 2016), as well as priority for improving quality and increasing supply (45 C.F.R. § 98.53(a)(4), 2016).

Why Focus on Family Child Care?

women with childrenThrough recent research, we learned that approximately half of children younger than 5 years old who received nonparental child care in 2011 were cared for in a home-based child care environment (Laughlin, 2013; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015). Approximately 25 percent of infants and toddlers receiving CCDF subsidies are cared for by FCC providers. For nearly a decade, there has been a steady national decrease in regulated or licensed FCC providers (Office of Child Care, 2016). Between 2008 and 2011, the number of regulated or licensed FCC providers decreased by 13 percent (Office of Child Care, 2016; Office of Child Care’s National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, 2013; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015), followed by a decline of 15 percent between 2011 and 2014 (Office of Child Care’s National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, 2015).

When FCC is of high quality, it has tremendous value as a setting for providing individualized care to infants and toddlers. Responsive and individualized care is necessary to support infants’ and toddlers’ unique developmental stages, learning styles, temperament, interests, and development of a first sense of self (Child Care State Capacity Building Center, 2016c; Lally & Mangione, 2006; Lieberman, 1995; Raikes & Edwards, 2009). Although FCC provider training and adult-child ratios vary across the country, FCC embodies, by its very nature, the qualities that are essential for supporting infant and toddler development—reliable one-on-one relationships and nurturing and responsive care, delivered in a family setting (Office of Child Care, 2016).

Continuity of care, a feature available in the FCC setting, provides a stable and consistent relational context for development (Child Care State Capacity Building Center, 2017a). Having the same caregiver over time provides an opportunity for a responsive relationship between the infant or toddler and the adult caregiver to develop (Child Care State Capacity Building Center, 2017a; Ruprecht, Elicker, & Choi, 2016). Consistent and reliable caregiving supports early neurological development (Center on the Developing Child, 2012; Child Care State Capacity Building Center, 2016a).

Families who choose FCC as a child care option are often making this decision for the FCC programs’ affordability, opportunity for flexible scheduling and having siblings together, and possibility of sharing language and culture with the provider (Office of Child Care, 2016). Primary caregiving in FCC offers a unique opportunity for the provider, infants and toddlers, and their families to build relationships that are rooted in shared beliefs, rituals, and routines that reflect the home culture (Child Care State Capacity Building Center, 2016b; Gilford, Lally, Butterfield, Mangione, & Signer, 1993).

What Strategies Are Effective in Providing Support for High-Quality FCC Providers Who Serve Infants and Toddlers?

2 toddlers explore a piece of turf with a childcare giver outsideDespite the many benefits of FCC for infants and toddlers, some FCC settings have been found to be of lower quality, many of those serve low-income families and families who receive subsidies (Forry, Daneri, Howarth, 2013; Raikes et al., 2013; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015). Quality caregiving in FCC settings can be decreased by provider isolation and challenges with accessing resources and information (Porter et al., 2010; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015), as well as the complexity of serving mixed ages (Kryzer, Kovan, Phillips, Domagall, & Gunnar, 2007; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015). In a summary of recent research, Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, and Hallam (2015) identified different FCC quality predictors, including the receipt of support in personal, professional, and social aspects; regulatory or licensing status; receipt of training; and motivation and intentionality. Offering higher-subsidy reimbursement rates to FCC providers of high-quality infant and toddler care and contracting infant and toddler slots in FCC homes complement the quality support strategies identified in this article

Currently, staffed FCC networks, child care resource and referral services, state and territory infant and toddler networks, and early childhood agencies (through Early Head Start–Child Care Partnerships) are implementing the following research-based strategies:

  • Providing support services, such as direct provider education and training, visits to providers’ homes that emphasize supporting providers’ engagement with children and parents, telephone helplines, provider feedback opportunities, formal quality assessments, and social and peer supports (Bromer & Korfmacher, 2012; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015).
  • Offering training for FCC providers that includes content oversight, dosage intensity, and consistency of support; a relationship-based engagement approach; reflective practice; goal setting; and integrating motivation and incentives for providers to attain those goals (Bromer & Korfmacher, 2012; Ramsburg, Bromer, Saterfield, McMannis, & Hallam, 2015).
  • Implementing subsidy policies and practices that drive FCC expansion and quality for infants and toddlers, due to the recognized higher cost of providing such care.

References

Bromer, J., & Korfmacher, J. (2012). Evaluation of a relationship-based training pilot for agency specialists working with home-based child care providers: Final report summary. Chicago, IL: Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy, Erikson Institute. Retrieved from
http://www.erikson.edu/wp-content/uploads/Erikson-FCCSTP-Phase-1-Final-Report-7-5-12.pdf

Center on the Developing Child. (2012). Executive function: Skills for life and learning. INBrief. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Retrieved from
http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-executive-function/

Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Program, 81 Fed. Reg. 67438 (January 27, 2017) (codified at 45 C.F.R. Part 98). Retrieved from
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-09-30/pdf/2016-22986.pdf

Child Care State Capacity Building Center, Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017a, January). Six essential program practices: Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) continuity of care, rationale and planning. [Brief]

Child Care State Capacity Building Center, Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017b,January). Six essential program practices: Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) culturally sensitive care, rationale and planning.[Brief]

Child Care State Capacity Building Center, Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017c, January). Six essential program practices: Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) individualized care, rationale and planning.[Brief]

Forry, N. D., Daneri, P., & Howarth, G. (2013). Child care subsidy literature review. OPRE Brief 2013-60. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/subsidy_literature_review.pdf

Gilford, S., Lally, J. R., Butterfield, G., Mangione, P. L., & Signer, S. M. (1993). Essential connections: Ten keys to culturally sensitive child care. [DVD]. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

Kryzer, E. M., Kovan, N., Phillips, D. A., Domagall, L. A., & Gunnar, M. R. (2007). Toddlers’ and preschoolers’ experience in family day care: Age differences and behavioral correlates. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 22(4), 451–466.

Lally, J. R., & Mangione, P. L. (2006). The uniqueness of infancy demands a responsive approach to care. Young Children, 61(4), 14–20.

Laughlin, L. (2013). Who’s minding the kids? Child care arrangements: Spring 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from
https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p70-135.pdf

Lieberman, A. F. (1995). The emotional life of the toddler. New York: The Free Press.

Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016).Family child care brief. Retrieved from
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/occ/occ_fcc_brief.pdf

Office of Child Care’s National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, & the National Association for Regulatory Administration. (2013). Research brief #2: Trends in family child care home licensing requirements and policies for 2011 (No. 042). Retrieved from
https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/public/042_1304_fcch_licensing_trends_final_0.pdf

Office of Child Care’s National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, & the National Association for Regulatory Administration. (2015). Trends in family child care home licensing requirements and policies for 2014 . (No. 315). Retrieved from
https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/public/315_1511_fcch_licensing_trends_brief_2014_final_508_0.pdf

Porter, T., Pausell, P., Del Grosso, P., Avellar, S., Hass, R., & Vuong, L. (2010).A review of the literature on home-based child care: Implications for future directions. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Retrieved from
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/lit_review.pdf

Raikes, H., & Edwards, C. (2009). Extending the dance in infant and toddler caregiving. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, Inc.

Raikes, H., Torquati, J., Jung, E., Peterson, C., Atwater, J., Scott, J., & Messner, L. (2013). Family child care in four Midwestern states: Multiple measures of quality and relations to outcomes by licensed status and subsidy program participation.Early Childhood Research Quarterly 28(4), 879–892

Ramsburg, D., Bromer, J., Saterfield, L., McMannis, D., & Hallam, R. (2015, July).Strategies for building a supply of high-quality infant and toddler care. PowerPoint presented at the State and Territory CCDF Administrators Meeting, Alexandria, VA. Retrieved from
https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/public/itrg/strategies_for_building_a_supply_of_high-quality_infant_and_toddler_care.pdf

Ruprecht, K., Elicker, J., & Choi, J. (2016). Continuity of care, caregiver–child interactions, and toddler social competence and problem behaviors.Early Education and Development, 27(2), 221–239. doi:10.1080/10409289.2016.1102034