This post highlights a policy recommendation from our new report, The Quest for Equity and Quality Examining Provider Experiences and Participation in Texas Rising Star. This report, released 4/4/22, explores data from a statewide survey and focus groups in which providers were asked about their experiences with Texas Rising Star.
As providers were sharing their experiences with our TRS in the focus groups, many providers took the opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge with one another. There would often be a question asked in the group about TRS and another provider would quickly speak up and share feedback. Experienced providers offered their contact information to novice providers that were interested in continuing the conversation. Providers strongly suggested that a streamlined network(s) be created to connect providers within their local communities to create an avenue to share resources, ideas, and support. Designating space within a regional area for providers to come together to network would add a level of mentoring and support beyond TRS and their LWDB.
Additionally, there are a few local initiatives to help increase provider network supports. For example, the Austin Chapter of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TXAEYC) meets on various topics monthly, such as accreditation. The Houston Infant Toddler Coalition and All Our Kin (AOK) has partnered with family child care providers to develop a workgroup that centers around provider voice and needs. Lastly, Arlington Dallas-Fort Worth (ADFW) Child Care Professional Association is a networking group centered around family child care professionals. Each network is locally driven based on the needs of their providers.
While the need for networking opportunities is vital for both child care centers and family child care, family child care providers have a less organic opportunity to develop those networks. A direct state investment into a network for family child care would create a statewide platform for all family child care providers to access, establish peer-to-peer relationships, and share knowledge and resources with one another.
The CHILDREN AT RISK Early Childhood Education team will be discussing this report in depth throughout their virtual Texas Tour events in April 2022. They will also review strategies going into the 88th legislative session and present new Child Care Desert maps.