ROCKY HILL, CT — The child care industry supports Connecticut’s workforce, which was painfully apparent during the height of the pandemic when childcare was on the brink of collapse and essential workers (i.e., nurses, teachers) were suddenly forced to balance their jobs with child care responsibilities.
According to the CT Mirror, “Connecticut’s labor force — the portion of the adult population employed or looking for work — contracted sharply at the beginning of the pandemic and has failed to recover to its pre-COVID scale. While many of the 289,400 jobs lost in March and April of 2020 have been recovered, the state’s workforce in February 2022 remained at 4.2%, smaller than it was the same month in 2020. Economists have attributed much of the persistent workforce deficit to a childcare shortage.”
Licensed family child care providers need and deserve supports to create sustainable businesses that provide developmentally oriented services that support children and their families. Through its partnership with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, United Way of Connecticut (UWC) 211 Child Care will serve as the “Hub” for Connecticut’s cohort of Staffed Family Child Care Networks (SFCCNs).
This new Hub will work to solidify Connecticut’s family child care system, supporting quality and sustainability, and will provide facilitative leadership to connect network services that are currently being offered independently across networks. The Hub will also help the regional networks recruit new family child care providers to the field to build capacity and to join their networks, manage member relations, organize, and facilitate a regular community of practice by meeting with their provider members, determining what supports are needed and arranging for professional development, technical assistance, and coaching opportunities. The regional network partners are TEAM Inc. for Region 1, the City of Hartford for Region 2 and The Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children (CTAEYC) for Regions 3,5 and 6.
Before the Hub was created, individual family child care networks provided different services and different levels of services. Previously, the funded SFCCN included small to medium sized nonprofit organizations and school-based family resource centers, each with its own strengths and specialties. This led to some differences between the services and opportunities available to family child care provider members at different networks: quality is uneven across providers, providers experience isolation, their jobs require high physical demands and provide insufficient remuneration.
Because the goal is for all licensed family child care providers to receive a wide array of consistent and quality support services, the network Hub will regularly convene the cohort of local network subcontractors to develop long-term professional relationships, promote a group identity and share best practices. This effort will also work to increase the supply of infant and toddler care in the state, improve quality, provide training and help providers access shared services to help them save time and money.
“United Way of Connecticut’s 211 Child Care is committed to ensuring that Connecticut’s family child care system develops equitably and consistently,” shares Sherri Sutera, UWC Senior Vice President of Child Care Services. “And we believe that all family child care providers should receive a broad spectrum of consistent and quality support services. We are pleased that SFCCNs will now launch as a Regional Network led by our UWC team.”
“Staffed Family Child Care Networks are a critical part of the infrastructure being built by the Office of Early Childhood to support child care providers. With a focus on family home-based providers, these networks ensure that individuals caring for young children in their homes are connected experts in early care and education,” said Beth Bye, Office of Early Childhood Commissioner. “The Staffed Family Child Care Hub works with regional networks which links family child care providers to supports to strengthen both programmatic and business practices with the end goal to ensure their long-term viability.”
ABOUT UNITED WAY OF CONNECTICUT
United Way of Connecticut serves by 1) connecting people to information, education, and services; 2) supporting early childhood development and education; 3) responding to emergencies, whether they are personal/family crises or community-wide disasters; and 4) promoting strong communities in collaboration with many government and nonprofit partners. These four objectives are carried out by means of our diverse array of services which creates cross-cutting connections that help to integrate the work of multiple government and nonprofit agencies.
United Way of Connecticut’s core services include the Connecticut 211 contact center and point of entry for Mobile Crisis Intervention Services and Connecticut’s Coordinated Shelter Access Networks; 211 Child Care Resource and Referral Contact Center; 211 Child Development; and administering the State of Connecticut’s childcare subsidy program, Care 4 Kids. United Way of Connecticut also works with local United Way leaders to advance the common good by creating opportunities for all, with a particular focus on education, income/financial security, health and basic needs. For more information, visit ctunitedway.org
ABOUT 211 CHILD CARE
211 Child Care helps families find childcare to best meet their needs and maintains current listings of licensed and license exempt childcare programs in Connecticut. They provide early care professionals with training, technical assistance and resources.