Name of Initiative: Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) and Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion grants
Interview with: Patty Persell, New York State Head Start Collaboration Director
Regions served: These federal grants are available across the United States and territories. NY, as part of Region ll will be given a regional allocation of the $100M federal funds. Posting is expected in June/July and awards will be made by March 2021.
Population served: Pregnant women, and children birth to three years old in centerbased programs, and until 4 years old in family child care.
Funding: Federal funding
About Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) and Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion grants:
Federal funding for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) and Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion grants. These new grants fund the partnering of EHS programs with child care providers, as well as non-partnership EHS Expansions. Under EHS-CCP, new or existing EHS grantees partner with regulated center-based or family child care providers.
The EHS-CC Partnerships program enhances and supports early learning settings to provide comprehensive and continuous services. It increases access to high-quality, full-day, full-year child care, including family child care, for low-income working families. The program also supports the development of infants and toddlers through strong relationship-based experiences and prepares them for the transition into Head Start and preschool.
The EHS-CC Partnerships program brings together the strengths of child care and EHS programs. Child care centers and family child care providers respond to the needs of working families by offering flexible and convenient full-day/full-year services. In addition, child care providers have experience providing care that is strongly grounded in the cultural, linguistic, and social needs of the families and their local communities. Through the EHS-CC Partnerships program, child care centers and family child care providers have access to resources to provide the comprehensive services needed to support better outcomes for the nation's most vulnerable children. EHS is a research-based program that emphasizes the importance of responsive and caring relationships to support the optimal development of infants and toddlers. EHS provides comprehensive family-centered services that adhere to the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) to support high-quality learning environments. Integrating EHS comprehensive services and resources into the array of traditional child care and family child care settings creates new opportunities to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their families.
Early childhood programs, centers and family childcare sites alike are facing unprecedented funding insecurity during this COVID-19 pandemic. With plummeting enrollment many of our sites who provide care to children and families across the state are facing temporary or permanent closures. New funding opportunities through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) and Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion grants could help to mitigate this, and even, strengthen New York’s early childhood system. Patty Persell, New York State Head Start Collaboration Director, addresses ways Early Head Start expansion funding can support existing early childhood programs through this crisis: “Head Start was lucky enough to get the directive during COVID-19 to keep paying all of its staff no matter what, so these programs are able to keep their full funding no matter how many kids came every day, no matter where they were located or if they were closed or open. Funding these programs throughout the pandemic keeps our workforce consistent which is good for the economy, good for the workforce, and good for New York families.”
Programs, centers and sites who take advantage of this expansion funding opportunity will receive a range of resources to help them better meet the needs of the children and families they serve. These comprehensive supports include access to quality improvement, training and professional development, developmental screening services, food and nutrition which includes two meals a day and a snack, medical care, dental hygiene, supervision and support around family engagement, materials and supplies, and a range of social service supports, all of which serve to support the holistic health and development of enrolled children and families. Persell speaks to the importance of having these supports in place: “A better supported staff with access to comprehensive services for the whole child and family will lead to better quality and better supported children, so having these extra experts come in and support these elements of the program frees up the provider to focus on the early childhood education of the children.”
The Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships provide more children and families across the state with culturally responsive care and education. Persell elaborates stating: “family child care providers who participate in these partnerships receive sustainable funding and supports in order to provide ongoing truly culturally specific and supportive environment for the children who come from the same community they do and they share some of the same values of the children, so this is an opportunity for a smaller group to be very focused on what is important to those families and their culture.” While center based programs have a different structure, they too receive targeted resources and supports to bolster their cultural competence and delivery of comprehensive services: “Each program is assigned a family support specialist to help parents reach their family goals. Families have shared statements about how their lives have been changed by getting access to these services.” The benefits of this family engagement support permeate the classroom and build a stronger culture of respect and value for diversity extend beyond the classroom into the larger community. And the daily food, diapers and supplies are a huge help to the families.
While the application process may seem daunting, Persell offers resources: “Programs, family child care or center based child care who are interested in partnering to join this shouldn’t be shy. I encourage you to take the leap and see if you can be a part of one of these applications in your community so that we can expand the high quality programs for children in New York.” Persell provides further guidance around the application process: “Anyone who is interested should be registered with grants.gov, but don’t wait for the grant to be posted to begin your application. The postings for this partnership tend to be the same as prior years, so I encourage people to sit with their board, their managers and others in the community to work on their application well before its posted so they have enough time to answer all the questions and make sure the group is in agreement. Next they should reach out to their local CCR&R and local Early Head Start/Head Start programs so they know who you are and can help you connect with other potential partners.” Persell also shares additional resources to support the application process: “We have the 5 webinars posted here, that will walk you through the process. These include voices from the field sharing useful tips and ideas as you sit and plan your application so I encourage you to look at those.” While the application process is a challenge, Persell explains that it is worth the effort: “By giving family child care providers and centers the guidance and resources that they have right now through these partnerships enables them to do their job in a way that yields more positive outcomes for children. We cannot underestimate how powerful providing these basic consistent social service supports so early in life can change families lives forever.”