Promoting Stable Relationships for Infants & Toddlers

Babies and toddlers thrive on consistency. They grow and develop in the context of supportive relationships. Stimulating interactions with the caregivers in their lives literally build their brains and create a strong foundation for their future learning and success. That’s why Early Head Start relies on best practice for continuity of care and assigns a primary caregiver to each child in its programs.

The Administration for Children & Families’second webinar on Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships focused on the importance of continuity of care for infants and toddlers.

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What is a Primary Caregiver?

From the Administration for Children & Families:

Primary caregiving requires that one caregiver be matched to a baby or toddler upon entering group care. This single caregiver has the primary responsibility for establishing and maintaining a relationship with the child and his or her family. As a result, a primary caregiver forms a close bond with the infant or toddler and the family and is primarily responsible for that child’s care in the group. The primary caregiver also works to promote continuous caring relationships for the child through the coordination of care, services, and staffing so that when she is not present the child is still cared for within a system of trusted, familiar adults.

Does North Carolina Licensing Require a Primary Caregiver? No and yes. North Carolina Child Care Rules require “a caregiver or team of caregivers shall be assigned to each infant or toddler as the primary caregiver(s) who is responsible for care the majority of the time.”

While this rule helps support continuity of care, it does not meet the Early Head Start definition of assigning a primary caregiver for a child from infancy to age three, who also provides comprehensive support for the family.

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State Policies that Support Continuity of Care
One of the desired outcomes of the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships is an alignment of state policies that promote high quality for infants and toddlers. As these partnerships will be supported by blended funding, state subsidy policies are a good starting point. Presenters included their top 10 list of subsidy policies that support continuity of care and provide stability for child care providers.

  1. Align Early Head Start and Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) eligibility requirements.
  2. Serve vulnerable populations (e.g., homeless families).
  3. Allow job search as eligibility criteria.
  4. Refer dually-eligible families to Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships.
  5. Align length of eligibility to 12 months and ease family reporting requirements.
  6. Waive parent fees for families at or below the federal poverty level or that meet other criteria.
  7. Establish contracts to delegate eligibility determination to an Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership.
  8. Pay providers rates that support quality.
  9. Support providers with payment policies that allow for sustainable continuity of care.
  10. Layer funding allowing Early Head Start and CCDF funds to pay for the same child provided there is no duplication in payment for the same service.

The Administration for Children and Families is working on a crosswalk of EHS Performance Standards and state standards. We will share that once it is available.

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