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School readiness for all: The contribution of family, friend, and neighbor care in Colorado [Executive summary]

Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) care refers to the network of relatives, close friends, and neighbors who are involved with parents in the care and education of young children. As detailed in this report, FFN care is a significant, but poorly understood, part of the early child care landscape in Colorado. This report attempts to build and frame a conversation about intentionally including FFN providers in Colorado's efforts to maximize the enrichment of early interactions for all of its children. Central to this conversation is respect for the choices of families of all incomes, backgrounds, races, and ethnicities who choose FFN care, often in spite of other options, for reasons that include trust, flexibility, and shared values. There is much we don't know about the contours of FFN care in Colorado. We do know that the need for and prevalence of FFN care in Colorado are substantial. We also know that FFN care is unique. Accordingly, the community- and relationship-centric supports its practitioners need to deliver the best quality of care to children might have less in common with the quality improvement processes in place for formal settings, and more in common with family support initiatives. Moreover, there is no "typical" FFN provider. The community of FFN providers is incredibly heterogeneous, with different needs and interests and divergent mechanisms for and comfort levels with connecting to the state's formal child care system. To better understand both the possibilities and the challenges, the FFN Learning Community convened eight community conversations with FFN providers in locations across Colorado, beginning in the fall of 2012. These conversations were supplemented by a limited sample of written surveys completed by FFN providers, primarily in the host communities. These community conversations were not designed or intended to be exhaustive. Rather, they provide an initial snapshot of the FFN landscape in Colorado based on an intentional effort to uncover, talk to, and understand the caregivers whose work often goes unacknowledged in national, state, and local discussions about child care and family support. This report captures those conversations and sets out recommendations for additional study and activity. It is organized in three parts. (author abstract)
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Executive Summary

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