A National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships

2013-2018
Prepared for
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Research consistently shows an extensive and growing need for high quality, out-of-home child care for infants and toddlers from all families, but particularly for low-income families. To meet both children’s developmental needs and parents’ workforce needs, government leaders and policymakers have expressed support for early care and education partnerships at the point of service delivery to build more seamless care systems and promote quality across settings. These partnerships involve two or more organizations working together to jointly provide early care and education services to young children and their families. Organizations can work together by combining funding, resources, materials, and staff to serve additional children, provide comprehensive services, enhance service quality, or provide full-day, full-year early care and education. In fiscal year 2014, the federal government further highlighted this approach by funding early learning opportunities for children from birth to age 3 through Early Head Start-child care partnerships. The grants allow new or existing Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers and family child care homes serving low-income families with infants and toddlers.

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a contract to Mathematica to carry out a study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. ACF’s goal is to learn how the partnerships are formed and operated, including how partnerships deliver high quality and comprehensive services to infants, toddlers, and their families.  

The study includes a review of the literature to summarize the current knowledge base around Early Head Start-child care partnerships; development of a theory of change model to articulate relations among key features, characteristics, and expected outcomes of partnerships; design of approaches to measuring partnerships for future research; and the design and implementation of a national descriptive study of Early Head Start-child care partnerships.