Addressing Adversity and Supporting Families and Staff for Success in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships

In 2014, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) granted funds to establish Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCPs) to expand families’ access to high-quality child care. Through these partnerships, Early Head Start grantees have worked with center-based and family child care providers to implement Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and provide comprehensive services and resources to meet the needs of low-income families with infants and toddlers in community child care settings.

In 2016, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation commissioned Child Trends to engage with six EHS-CCPs that received additional funding from the Foundation to support partnership implementation. From 2016 to 2020, Child Trends carried out activities to learn more about the partnerships, including the challenges and benefits of working in partnerships. These activities included classroom quality observations, in-person interviews, and facilitated group discussions with grantees and partners. The team later convened partnership representatives in a two-day meeting to provide an opportunity for partners to share experiences and learn from one another.

As part of Child Trends’ work to support these partnerships, we developed toolkit-style resources to help EHS-CCP grantee staff and child care partners work through and overcome typical challenges they may encounter during the partnership process, and to help partnerships maximize the benefits of working together. One challenge identified by the six partnerships is supporting children who have experienced adversity, as well as staff who have their own childhood and adult experiences with adversity.

This resource first defines childhood adversity, and briefly describes how adversity experienced in childhood does (or does not) affect outcomes later in life. Next, it provides an overview of research on the effects that EHS and Head Start (HS) have on participating children and families who have experienced adversity. It then shifts to discussing adversity that EHS-CCP staff may have experienced and the effects of their experiences on their work with children, using a case study to illustrate approaches for supporting staff. The resource also highlights work that the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (one of the six grantees involved in Child Trends’ study) has done to support staff who have experienced adversity and facilitate their work with children and families. Other resources in this series will address additional topics that emerged from the study and include input and examples from other partnership sites.