ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED: EQuIPD, Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R), Bringing out the Best, child care center directors, teachers from a range of facilities (private, non-profit, lab centers, family child care, public i.e. Head Start), parents.
COMMUNITY PROBLEM: Not all children in Guilford County have access to high-quality, affordable child care.
CHALLENGE GOAL: Define local issues around accessibility, quality, and affordability of care for children under age five from various perspectives and make recommendations for improving the system.
READY/READY FRAMEWORK ELEMENT ADDRESSED: SUPPORTED FAMILIES > Sufficient Supports Available for Children > Children in high-quality, affordable early learning settings
PERSPECTIVES ENGAGED: Families, early childhood professionals (leaders, various agencies, teachers, directors, family child care providers), and community members.
ACTIONS TAKEN & ASSOCIATED BEST PRACTICES
- Defined the local problem: Aligned work with NAEYC’s policy statement “A Call for Excellence in Early Childhood Education” (website)
- Assessed fit and capacity of local efforts. At least 22,913 children in Guilford County need childcare because one or both parents are working or in school. (Child Care Services Association, 2015; American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2014). In 2015, an average of only 9,952 children were enrolled in a licensed child care center. (Child Care Services Association, 2015).
- Conducted root cause analysis. Themed/analyzed qualitative data
WHAT WE LEARNED
- There are systemic connections among quality, affordability and accessibility. As a community, we can’t address one without addressing the others, including compensation for early childhood teachers.
- Respondents defined and interpreted “quality child care” differently based on their own experiences and perceptions.
- Specific issues were highlighted in infant and toddler care.
- Centers have few dollars to support staff retention efforts and parents can’t afford to pay more for care. Turnover is high as low wages and poor working conditions cannot be significantly improved without public funding (models such as Head Start, NC-PreK, K-12 system).
- Affordability affects more families than those who qualify for assistance or programs, i.e. many families that make too much for subsidy yet still can’t afford high quality)
- Respondents related accessibility mostly to wait lists and affordability.
- Processes included multiple perspectives about quality, affordability and accessibility.
- Immediate recommendations are: to secure funding resources to implement a salary supplement program to attract and retain high-quality teachers. In addition, adjusting eligibility requirements for subsidized programs, which will increase the number of families accessing child care. By addressing affordability, we will increase accessibility.
- Grow network of advocates to rally around issues related to quality, affordability and accessibility of child care.