In-home providers have 59 percent of Texas childcare market

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The quality of early childhood experiences impact children’s school readiness, as well as their future success in life. The research in this area is indisputable, which is why it’s important to think through how we approach child care quality in our state.

Many Texans do not realize how many different types of child care are available. The Department of Family and Protective Services tracks four specific types: licensed child care centers, licensed child care homes, registered child care homes and listed child care homes.

As one moves down the list, the amount of oversight and regulation decreases.

According to Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Early Learning Council’s 2012 report, Texas Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment, home-based care accounts for 59 percent of the provider sites in the state.

Many parents prefer home-based child care because it offers a familial setting where the parent can establish a very close and personal relationship with the provider.

Care in these settings is different than center-based child care. The provider typically works alone, cares for mixed-age groups all at once and typically serves at least one state-subsidized child. Home-based providers are busy, self-employed business owners who often do not make a significant profit.

Although it is estimated that 45,000 children in our state are served through home-based settings, quality initiatives at the local and state level often overlook this group. These providers often work in isolation, and they represent a blind spot in our state conversations about child care quality and standards.

Still, there is good news to report. In 2010, the Texas Early Learning Council tasked the UTHealth Children’s Learning Institute with creating a research-based quality improvement model for this population of providers.

I am pleased to announce that starting this month, the Children’s Learning Institute is making this model available for free for up to 600 providers in the state: 300 providers will be served through our Texas School Ready! Project, and an additional 300 spots are open on a first-come, first-served basis.

We call the model Beginning Education: Early Childcare at Home, or BEECH, and it takes an in-depth, online professional development approach. Providers can sign up, take free online courses in crucial early childhood subjects, and receive professional development hours for their participation.

The system, which is in English and Spanish, includes informative videos, knowledge checks and clear and easy to understand recorded audio. It is as if providers have access to their own expert in early childhood — but they can attend the classes according to their schedule.

Early data collected from two research trials on BEECH shows very exciting results. BEECH providers demonstrated improved practices in classroom environment skills, sensitivity behaviors, book reading behaviors, oral language usage, written expression learning opportunities, print and letter knowledge opportunities and mathematical concepts.

Preschoolers and toddlers in BEECH child care homes had gains in language and behavior skills. Ongoing analysis is expected to yield more promising results.

If we are serious as a state about improving the quality of early childhood education, we must not forget about the home-based child care sector. BEECH is a great opportunity for these providers.

Home-based providers who would like to enroll in BEECH should email ms.beech@uth.tmc.edu. The enrollment period closes Nov. 30, 2013.

Susan Landry is the founder and director of the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). www.childrenslearninginstitute.

org/

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