Recognizing The Post-COVID Child Care Deficit
When Covid-19 shut the world down, millions of families no longer had a Child Care Center open to care for their children. As a result, many families turned to smaller, private family child care providers for assistance. Family child care providers already outnumbered Child Development Centers in the number of children served, and in the shadows of shelter in place, social distancing, and quarantine, they rose to the challenges facing the entire world by keeping their doors open for even more children. This often unnoticed sector shouldered the burden of avoiding economic collapse and continued serving working families. With this added responsibility, it’s time to step in, and Pre-K 4 SA wants to help.
Recognizing the Importance of the 0-5 Years
The first five years of human life are when 90% of brain development happens. The foundations of language and social and emotional growth, key factors in future academic success, are created with a proliferation of synaptic connections during this time period and subsequent pruning of those that are unused regularly starting around the age of 7. With the rest of a child’s life dependent on getting these early years right, we need to expand learning opportunities for all providers of care to young children to receive the training and support needed to build strong and healthy brains ready to learn.
Pre-K 4 SA Support and Resources Can Be Game-Changing
Family child care providers are nearly one hundred percent women-owned, mostly by women of color, and primarily serve other women who work non-traditional hours. They serve smaller ratios of children and are the primary choice for infant care across all socio-economic backgrounds. More than 7 million children ages five and under have their early learning experiences with family child care providers, and that is nearly double the number of children who are cared for in child development centers or school care (3.8 million). However, historically, the training and resources for them have not been prioritized.
In Texas, to open a home-based child care center, you must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED. The training requirements to open a center depend on what type of family child care you want to open. There are no training requirements to open a Listed Family Home, and for a Registered or Licensed Home, 30 clock hours of annual training are required. In contrast, Texas requires preschool teachers in the public school system to hold a college degree. So you can see the incredible need for support, collaboration and training to serve our birth-5 year population.
Pre-K 4 SA’s Professional Learning Program Is Expanding Its Reach
Pre-K4SA understands that in order to meet its vision of increasing the number of high-quality early learning and care options for San Antonio from birth to age 5, our professional learning services need to expand to include these family child care providers throughout our city. Family child care providers are an increasingly important piece of the early learning infrastructure for our city’s families, economy, and future citizens, and we must continue to create opportunities for all young children to thrive in every setting they receive care.
That’s why Pre-K 4 SA has partnered with Avance, an organization delivering equitable access to resources and opportunities for predominately Latino children and families to reach their fullest potential. Together, they are providing a new program called Quality Child Care Matters (QCCM) to our city’s family child care homes. The program’s goal is to create communities of learning with family providers, with training on high-quality practices for the early stages of child development, and dialogue and support for needs specific to this type of childcare setting with the goal of increasing the number of high-quality options for San Antonio families seeking care for their children. The program is offered in English and Spanish and meets monthly as a group with individual support in between sessions.
If you or anyone you know is a child care provider, home-based or center-based, we encourage you to take advantage of these resources. You’ll be changing lives!
The next QCCM session will be April 30th on Business Policies and Procedures at the Pre-K 4 SA West Education Center from 8:00 to 11:00 AM. Interested providers are invited to join us and find out more by contacting Kristina Herrera.