What are the keys to high-quality, publicly-funded child care?
As noted in our previous post on public funding’s role in the path to quality child care, to address the issue, New York City is introducing “family child care” as part of New York City’s “3K-for-All” program.
According to the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, about 94 percent of New York City’s prekindergarten programs “met or exceeded a threshold that predicts positive student outcomes after pre-K.” Read more here.
How high are the stakes? The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School’s report “Free Preschool, Coming to an Apartment Near You: What Family Child Care Could Mean for 3K”states:
“The country’s growing number of publicly funded universal preschool programs hold the potential to change this. These programs save working families huge amounts of money on child care and have been demonstrated to boost mothers’ participation in the workforce. When public preschool programs set high quality standards and provide the funding and supports needed to meet them, they also support children’s development and school readiness. And when they are built using the wide range of early childhood pro- grams that already exist, they can do even more. They can raise quality in the settings that working parents already depend on, but that have historically received modest government funding. This has the potential to benefit not only those enrolled in public preschool, but the babies and toddlers in these programs as well.”
The first few years of life are a time of intense and rapid brain growth, and it is imperative that all children, and especially children receiving subsidized child care, receive care that is of high quality during this time.”
– Free Preschool, Coming to an Apartment Near You: What Family Child Care Could Mean for 3K
Recommendations for High-Quality, Publicly-Funded Child Care
As part of its research on what it takes to deliver high quality child care — particularly in a public-funding setting — the report outlines four recommendations to strengthen New York City’s licensed family child care providers. While the recommendations are written for the NYC program, they hold ideas important to policymakers (and families) generally:
1. Create requirements and standards specific to home-based 3K providers along with education and professional development opportunities. “Group family daycares operate on far smaller budgets than do child care centers, and a family daycare program can by law enroll only 12 full-time children. For a large number of family child care programs to meaningfully participate in 3K-for-All, the City must develop criteria, supports, and protocols specific to these small businesses.”
2. Protect New York City’s supply of infant and toddler care. “The City has fewer than 25,000 infants and toddlers receiving subsidized child care, including those in child care centers, family child care, and informal care. The City can’t afford to lose the providers serving the infants and toddlers receiving this care—which may happen if they opt to become solely providers of 3K services.”
3. Raise the rate paid to providers who meet quality benchmarks. “Subsidized family child care in New York City lacks financial incentives for quality improvement. It is imperative that the State, which sets the subsidized rates that family child care providers receive per child, follow the lead of many other states that provide financial incentives to encourage teachers in subsidized family child care to pursue professional development opportunities and to improve their programs. Quality Stars New York provides a basis for tiered rates, while also providing valuable information to parents about program quality.”
4. Create pay equity throughout all DOE programs. “The first few years of life are a time of intense and rapid brain growth, and it is imperative that all children, and especially children receiving subsidized child care, receive care that is of high quality during this time. But currently, a teacher will make considerably less while working longer hours in a DOE Pre-K or 3K program in a subsidized child care center than an identically credentialed teacher in a public school that is open to all. This has led to a drain of talented, experienced teachers out of the subsidized child care centers that low-income families depend on. As DOE prepares to assume responsibility for the subsidized child care system, it must nd ways to create salary parity among all equally quali ed teachers. Children receiving subsidized care must have equal access to experienced, talented teachers.”