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Facilitating Comprehensive Services and Supports in Family Child Care Project (CSS)

How Family Child Care Networks Help Families Thrive: A Participatory Approach to Understand Equity and Access in Comprehensive Services

  • Juliet Bromer , Co-Principal Investigator, Erikson Institute
  • Samantha Melvin , Co-Principal Investigator, Erikson Institute
  • Crystasany Turner , Investigator, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Patricia Molloy , Project Manager, Erikson Institute
  • Leanett Reinoso , Research Assistant, Erikson Institute
  • Community Advisory Board Members


The goal of this project is to better understand how families and children in family child care programs find out about and use supports and resources including those that address their health, mental health, financial stability, and social-emotional well-being. The project also aims to examine the role of family child care networks in facilitating access to resources as well as to highlight the role that family child care educators play in helping families and children thrive.

Early care and education’s (ECE) health, academic, social, and economic benefits make it a key strategy for partially addressing systemic inequities in children’s development caused by systemic racism, classism, and sexism. One promising approach to addressing some of these inequities is through the delivery of comprehensive services and supports (CSS) through ECE programs. CSS are typically conceptualized as a two-generation approach to direct and/or indirect provision of services to children and their families beyond ECE services and may include early intervention services; health and mental health counseling; income, housing, and nutrition assistance; education and employment supports; and external linkages to other supports. It is well-established that family child care (FCC) professionals support families in holistic and often informal ways, but some research indicates that families in FCC have more limited access to formal CSS than their peers in centers. Because of their key role in the lives of young children and their families, it is important to better understand how FCC professionals, as well as the networks they may be members of, facilitate access to the supports that children and families may need to thrive.

This study uses an approach informed by community-based participatory research methodology to examine the types and delivery models of CSS in FCC networks; how FCC professionals and families conceptualize CSS; the degree to which CSS are delivered (equitably; and the benefits and challenges FCC professionals and families experience during the process of accessing (or not accessing) CSS. The following research questions will guide the study:

  1. What kinds of CSS do local FCC networks offer families of children enrolled in FCC homes? How are CSS delivered, and how are supports differentiated to ensure equitable access and outcomes for families and children?
  2. How do FCC providers affiliated with FCC networks facilitate families’ access to CSS?
  3. What are families’ experiences interacting with FCC networks and FCC providers around access to and quality of CSS that help them thrive?

This project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge the work of the community advisory boards at our four sites as well as our community family child care network and support organization partners.



Unpacking Comprehensive Services and Supports in Family Child Care: The Role of Networks

This brief presents an analysis of national data exploring how HBCC networks support the delivery of comprehensive services and supports to children and families in HBCC settings, as well as recommendations for HBCC networks and cross-sector policy changes. We find that:

  1. Networks primarily offer CSS focused on children’s health and development, with fewer services focused on family well-being.
  2. Many networks offer information about CSS, but fewer offer direct services or assistance.
  3. Networks use data collection, staffing, and relationship-building strategies to implement CSS for children and families.
  4. Networks that do not prioritize family support and engagement as part of their mission may face additional barriers to CSS delivery.

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