Milestones included both processes and outcomes. These are areas identified as important in the context of today’s political environment, where often parents and providers have not been part of policy solutions and coalitions are focused on including them. These milestones are specific to Child Care NEXT members and are a starting point for understanding collective power and tracking progress toward building it.
Working with evaluator Innovation Network, we have identified seven milestones across CC NEXT state teams:
Setting the Table
States were intentional about the membership and leadership of their coalitions. Several state teams discussed a milestone of their coalition as getting the right decision-makers in place to contribute to the group. Who those decision-makers were varied: some emphasized bringing in community voices, while another emphasized bringing in a child-care association with whom they had previously had a contentious relationship with in the past. State teams have emphasized that coalitions should be built intentionally, ideally starting small with grassroots groups when building collective power.
Safety and Trust Across Members
State teams have described the need for a feeling of safety and trust amongst the voices in the coalition, especially among the most impacted communities: parents and providers. They have highlighted the importance of creating a “culture of authenticity”: spaces that allow for honest opinions and feedback. These spaces may require “sitting with discomfort” and processes for accountability.
It is important for teams to “get on the same page” about what is important. Some state teams have developed shared values, while others have put in place internal processes such as operating agreements. Several have developed policy agendas for the coalition. Another important example of this is ensuring clarity about different roles possible in the coalition. Those with positional power are able to leverage that power for those in the coalition without it.
State coalitions need funding and resources to establish themselves and grow stronger. Funding can also help address barriers to participation.
Directed by Parents and Providers
State coalitions often discuss the importance of provider representation and close relationships with parents to guide their work. Teams typically agree that the inclusion of these groups can require time, energy, and intentional practice at all levels, including translation, compensation, and direct services. This, many expect, will lead to increased engagement from parents and providers over time, and that impacted communities will increasingly show up, speak up, and demand more.
States are in coalition to make progress on child care issues, and policy wins are a clear milestone.
Impact for Young Children and Their Families
Broader than policy wins, state teams agreed that collective power should result in real impact for children and families.
Working in their states – and learning together as a cohort – the first six Child Care NEXT states are well positioned to demonstrate to the rest of the nation how strategic, equitable, and system-wide change in child care can transform families, communities, and whole states.
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