Child Care Services Association (CCSA) is a North Carolina organization focused on early childhood development and the early childhood workforce, with state and national programs. We are also a child care resource and referral agency (CCR&R). CCR&R’s exist across the country. The website of Child Care Aware of America has a listing of every CCR&R, so people can contact their local agency. CCR&R’s help families find child care and provide professional development trainings and technical assistance for child care programs to support high quality. We’re about helping communities and helping families.
In North Carolina, I was able to bring homelessness work to CCSA, and it really is an important part of the work we do now. We’ve offered multiple trainings around early childhood homelessness, and we are collaborating with school McKinney-Vento liaisons, shelter providers, and others, to connect the dots between homelessness among our youngest children and the child care services available for them and their families. We also help programs administer the Self-Assessment Tool for Early Childhood Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness.
Right now in the field of child care, we are facing a huge number of challenges. It feels like for the first time, the world understands that child care is essential. We’ve always known that, but now the world knows: you can’t actually go back to work without child care! At the same time, our child care programs are trying to open, but their finances are based on a certain capacity and a certain income. Most centers are opening at about half capacity. Paying rent and staff with half the income doesn’t really work. We are using federal dollars for COVID to support centers and keep them whole as long as we can. Meanwhile, the workforce is concerned about going back to work.
To connect families to child care, we run a 1-800 number to make referrals about local options for children from infants through age 12. In the spring and early summer, we were able to have families experiencing homelessness included as essential workers, giving them preference for child care slots. Now, we have a waiting list for child care subsidies, so families experiencing homelessness have to be put on the waitlist. Many counties in North Carolina put those families at the top of the waitlist, but they still are not able to get into child care immediately.
One strategy I would recommend to others working in early childhood is to connect regularly with peers. In North Carolina, we have a call every two weeks with early childhood partners across the state: child care administrators, child care health consultants, Head Start directors, our Smart Start agencies here in North Carolina, and others. We share our challenges and brainstorm potential solutions. For example, we recently addressed the need to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to child care centers. My advice is to set up a group like this. It can be informal, open to any stakeholder who wants to join, and as frequently as you need. It’s really helpful to talk to others. Sometimes I can make the call, sometimes I can’t, and that’s OK. It’s just important to connect and share as much as we can.
It’s going to be an interesting school year! We will all work together!
This blog is written by Marsha Basloe.
President of Child Care Services Association (CCSA)
Marsha Basloe joined CCSA in February 2018. Most recently, Marsha was senior adviser for the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she was responsible for coordinating early childhood homelessness working closely with the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care and the Interagency Workgroup on Family Homelessness. She also worked on early childhood workforce initiatives, communications from the Office of Early Childhood and inter-agency efforts and other initiatives aimed at young children and families.
Before joining HHS, Marsha served as the executive director of the Early Care & Learning Council, the statewide CCR&R agency for New York’s 37 CCR&R agencies, where she was a member of the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. Before that, she was the executive director of Durham’s Partnership for Children.