Bridging Systems for Family Economic Mobility: Postsecondary and Early Education Partnerships

Barbara Gault, Ph.D., Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, M.A., Rachel Schumacher

May 30, 2019
  • ID: #C482

About this Report

Promoting family economic security and mobility requires collaboration across key systems that serve families. This report describes opportunities for the early childhood and higher education systems to support each other’s key goals for system advancements to increase economic mobility among America’s families. It provides examples of early education/higher education partnerships at multiple levels that use a variety of funding sources, and that often benefit from leaders and champions who understand the importance of addressing families’ postsecondary and early education needs in an integrated fashion. It also provides a set of principles and recommendations for establishing effective partnerships, informed by the guiding voices of parents. Engaging leaders at all levels, improving data availability, and modifying policies to improve the flow of information, supports, and resources available to families, programs, institutions, and innovative partnerships are key steps to integrating systems to better support families. This research, which was informed by a series of expert interviews, interviews with college students with children, and a literature review, was made possible with funding from the Kresge, Annie E. Casey, and Lumina Foundations.


Introduction and Summary

Families and communities reap powerful social and economic benefits when adults and children from low-income communities have access to education (Gault, Milli, and Reichlin Cruse 2018; Baum, Ma, and Payea 2013). Early childhood and higher education systems each set ambitious standards for quality instruction and tracking progress toward key milestones. By working more closely together, the two systems can better support children and adults in attaining education and enjoying the economic security and well-being that comes with it.


This report discusses how early childhood and higher education can support each other’s key goals for system advancements to increase economic mobility among America’s families. The higher education system, for example, is focused on increasing rates of degree attainment and improving racial and ethnic equity in college access and outcomes, which will require inclusion of adult students with children. Child care can play an important role in helping colleges attract and retain adult students. At the same time, the early education system provides education and care to young children to promote school readiness while working to improve child care quality, teacher training and pay, and family supports for the parents of children they serve. Colleges can provide training and practicum sites for early childhood teachers that also provide supports for students, and can offer career development to adults served by child care programs. Coordination across early education and higher education systems represents a win-win-win-win strategy, which brings benefits to families, improves quality in the early childhood system, promotes college completion, and boosts community economic development.


This report provides a framework for understanding the benefits of and possibilities for integrating higher education and early education systems, and provides examples of partnerships that use a variety of strategies and funding sources to:


‣  improve access to child care for college students,

‣  improve access to college for child care clients, and

‣  collaborate to simultaneously educate early childhood workers and support college students with children.


This research was informed by a literature review and a series of interviews with 19 early childhood and higher education experts and program leaders, as well as conversations with several college students with children (for a full list of interviewees, see Appendix A). The report makes recommendations for collaboration at the institutional, local, state, and national levels, discusses important players to have at the table, and makes suggestions for braiding and blending funding to work across systems.


Recommendations Include:

‣  Connect system leaders at the local, state, and national levels.

‣  Share student parent stories with early childhood and higher education leaders, and policy makers.

‣  Collect data on student parents and early education supports available to serve them.

‣  Increase funding for child care for student parents

‣  Change state child care assistance policy to make more child care available to college students.

‣  Work across systems to make it easier for student parents to find information about child care and other benefits.

‣  Invest in evidence-building and convening across Systems.

‣  Offer federal and state incentives to bring systems together.

‣  Leverage federal/state programs, like TANF and WIOA to connect low-income student parents with affordable, quality child care.

Why should we bridge our education gaps? higher education and early childhood education systems infographic.

Complementary Postsecondary and Early Education System Goals


Recognizing the importance of postsecondary education to economic equity, higher education systems and leaders are seeking strategies to increase the proportion and diversity of adults who attain postsecondary education. In 2009, for example, the Lumina Foundation set a goal to ensure that, by 2025, 60 percent of adults would have postsecondary degrees or credentials (Lumina Foundation 2009). As of 2018, all but nine states in the United States had committed to increasing higher education attainment rates (Sims 2018). To reach these goals, states must include adult learners who are financially independent and who often work substantial hours, have children, and may have taken time off between high school and college (Pingel, Parker, and Sisneros 2016; Lumina Foundation 2018). More than two in five adults over 25 who have children under 18 (43 percent) have a high school diploma or some college as their highest level of educational attainment, constituting a huge pool of prospective college students (IWPR 2019a). States and postsecondary institutions must recruit a significant share of adult students with children to meet their ambitious postsecondary attainment goals.


Parents in postsecondary education require specific supports to address their unique financial and time challenges. More than one in five students—or 3.8 million undergraduates—are parents of dependent children, who often need to find and pay for child care as a part of their college experience (Reichlin Cruse et al. 2019). Mothers of children under 18, and especially single mothers, are much less likely than other students to finish college within six years (IWPR 2018). Completing school often hinges on finding child care that parents can trust and afford and that supports their school and work schedules.


Finding and paying for child care, however, often becomes an insurmountable obstacle for students. Colleges and universities need the support of the early education system to help students find and secure affordable, quality child care. Meeting college students’ family support needs is also crucial for meeting higher education systems’ goals to reduce racial/ethnic and economic inequity in college attainment: 40 percent of Black, 36 percent of Native American, and 26 percent of Latina women students are raising children while attending college, and more than two thirds of students with children live below 200 percent of the poverty line (Reichlin Cruse et al. 2019; IWPR 2019b). Philanthropic leaders in the higher education arena have prioritized addressing systemic inequities in college access and success as a fundamental goal, as exemplified by such efforts as the Lumina Foundation’s Equity Imperative and the Gates Foundation’s Intermediaries for Scale initiative.[1]


At the same time, early care and education systems, and the early childhood workforce itself, can make better progress toward their goals for supporting children and families with low incomes by partnering with higher education systems. Parents with higher degrees and credentials have more income and financial stability than those with high school alone, and parental postsecondary education is associated with school readiness and on-time grade completion among their children (Baum, Ma, and Payea 2013; Magnuson 2007).


Higher education systems are also crucial partners in meeting early childhood education quality standards and the demand for highly qualified early educators. Across early learning programs, the field needs more educated and skilled early childhood educators to support child development and rising quality standards. The bipartisan reauthorization of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in 2014 made sweeping changes to increase health and safety standards and the quality of care and education in child care settings, and to ensure more continuity of care despite fluctuations in parents’ income or participation in education and training.


In addition, federal Head Start quality and service requirements have been updated over the last decade to strengthen and improve the quality of Head Start programs. For example, the federal Head Start Program Performance Standards require local programs to help parents identify and pursue goals related to family safety, health, and economic security, while also encouraging programs to partner with community-based organizations, including local postsecondary institutions, to support the achievement of family and parent goals (45 CFR § 1302.50 and 1302.53). In addition, in 2016, Head Start Program Performance Standards were overhauled for the first time since 1975 to align them with the latest research on early education and ensure children are set up for lifetime success. The reformed standards included an emphasis on full-day, full-year programming, a shift towards greater local innovation and flexibility, and limiting child suspensions, among other changes (Lieberman 2015).


Adding to the call for higher quality, the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine released a seminal report in 2015 calling for a national and systemic effort to raise the quality of early childhood care by increasing quality training and postsecondary education opportunities for the early childhood workforce and by better compensating the birth-to-eight early childhood workforce. Philanthropic and advocacy coalitions have come together to take on the challenge and postsecondary systems are necessary partners (Allen and Kelly 2015).


Working together is in the best interest of both the higher education and early education systems, the children and adults they serve, and the country as a whole. Changing how systems operate can be challenging, and it is useful to learn from leaders and programs across the country that have made important strides forward. Drawing on examples and interviews with pioneers working across postsecondary and early care and education systems, this report provides a framework, examples, and recommendations for those interested in taking steps to build partnerships between the two systems.


Connecting Two Systems—Where are the Opportunities?


Higher education and early education systems can connect at the programmatic, institutional, local, state, and federal levels through a variety of strategies. Colleges have a range of options for supporting parents’ ability to enroll and persist in college. They can help students find and secure affordable child care through referrals, apply for funding from the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program to directly provide subsidized care to students, and partner with Head Start programs and CCDBG subsidy systems to serve eligible students with children through vouchers, contracts, co-location, and helping to navigate students’ program eligibility (for an explanation of these major funding sources for student parents’ access to child care, see Appendix B). Early care and education programs can refer and connect parents to education and training programs to expand their economic opportunities, as well as meet local labor market demands, including the demand for well-trained early childhood teachers. Early education systems can expand partnerships with colleges to inform quality curricula, coordinate on experiential learning opportunities, and develop career ladders and pathways for early childhood educators. Such partnerships can draw on an array of funding sources, including CCDBG, Head Start, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Higher Education, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education and Training (SNAP E&T) dollars, as well as partnerships with philanthropy and the private sector.


Increasing the Availability of Child Care for College Students


The need for child care among the adult college student population presents a conundrum for college staff and administrators, who often have little familiarity with early childhood options, funding sources, referral systems, and eligibility criteria for child care assistance. Early childhood experts can help demystify child care for them—including how to navigate the child care system and understand the importance of quality early learning for child development outcomes—and help them identify affordable and efficient ways to support parents in college. A number of campuses and communities around the country are already pursuing creative referral systems, campus child care development, Head Start-college partnerships, and subsidy programs.

Colleges Referring Student Parents to Child Care Programs

For students juggling school, family, and work, access to child care is often critical to their college success. Curating and streamlining information about early care and education services in the community—via one-stop services, partnerships with child care resource and referral services, family resource centers, and other strategies—can make accessing services easier for student parents.


Miami Dade College (MDC) in Florida has worked to establish an early childhood ecosystem encompassing the college and local early education community, with the goal of ensuring that families, including student families, can access affordable, high-quality early education for their children. In addition to providing training opportunities to students enrolled in early childhood certificate and degree programs, MDC facilitates both on- and off-campus child care options for MDC students with children.[2] For students who are not able to secure a slot in the campus pre-school or who prefer another alternative, MDC launched a Single Stop program in 2010 to link their students to services and supports, including early care and education slots and assistance paying for child care (Miami Dade College n.d.). Single Stop Coordinators offers in-person assistance to quickly screen students for public benefits eligibility. Single Stop Coordinators help student parents navigate the child care selection process through a partnership with the local Early Learning Coalition, a nonprofit child care resource and referral agency that helps students find child care based on their individual needs. The Single Stop Coordinator can help student parents apply for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and for the state-funded School Readiness Child Care Financial Assistance program. They also provide listings of nearby Early Head Start/Head Start agencies in the community with at least three vacant slots for eligible children, so student parents can apply to participate in Head Start (Miami Dade College n.d.).[3] MDC is also working to develop a new bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education, offering scholarships to current providers in the community so they can “upskill.”


The University of Michigan, in addition to offering campus child care and child care subsidies to students, maintains an online list of family child care homes that provide care near campus and offer some priority to children of students, faculty, and staff. The list is accessible on the University’s “Students with Children” web page. The University offers home providers incentives to become accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care and to participate in at least 40 hours of professional development a year (University of Michigan 2015). There is also a subsidized, in-home sick child care program, for when students, faculty, or staff have a sick child and need to be on campus, staffed by caregivers screened and trained by the Red Cross (University of Michigan n.d.).[4]


Providing Campus-Based Child Care to Serve Student Parents

Campus-based child care can serve students, faculty, and staff, supporting the college’s degree completion goals by facilitating student parents’ ability to graduate. Having care nearby or onsite can make it easier for student parents to manage time and transportation challenges that they would face if their care arrangement and classes were miles apart. Onsite child care may also help colleges meet enrollment and faculty/staff recruitment and retention goals by attracting students and faculty to the campus.


Fewer than half of college campuses have child care on campus, however, and the proportion of college campuses with child care centers is declining. IWPR analysis found that, in 2017, just under half of bachelor’s degree-granting institutions (48 percent) and 42 percent of community college campuses had onsite child care (Figure 1). Even when campuses have child care centers that serve students, parents may not be able to access the program due to high demand. A survey of nearly 100 campus child care centers by IWPR in 2016 found that 95 percent had waiting lists (Eckerson et al. 2016). As of 2018, 19 states maintained waiting lists or had frozen enrollment for subsidized care in the community (Schulman 2018). The cost of high quality child care in the community are out of reach for most students, with the average annual cost of care for a four year old exceeding the annual cost of in-state tuition at a public university in 17 states and the District of Columbia (Child Care Aware of America 2018). Typically, child care offered on campuses must draw on multiple sources of public and private funding to augment what parents can pay, exacerbating concerns of instability and uncertainty of its continuation.


Figure 1. Share of Public Community Colleges and Bachelor’s Degree-Granting Institutions that Have a Campus Child Care Center, 2002-2017

Figure 1. Share of Public Community Colleges and Bachelor’s Degree-Granting Institutions that Have a Campus Child Care Center, 2002-2017 (higher education)

Note: Community colleges are defined as public institutions granting associate degrees; four-year public colleges are public institutions awarding bachelor’s degrees. Includes 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Service academies, and other U.S. jurisdictions.Source: IWPR analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Institutional Characteristics Surveys (2017 Provisional Release).



Using CCAMPIS Funding to Provide Campus-Based Child Care

The only dedicated federal funding stream to help meet the child care needs of college students with financial need is the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program. Administered through competitive grants to higher education entities by the U.S. Department of Education, CCAMPIS grants are used to provide subsidized care to eligible students with low incomes at on-campus centers or licensed, high-quality, off-campus child care centers, or family child care homes. They can also be used to establish new on-campus care to meet students’ care needs (20 U.S. Code § 1070e). After remaining flat-funded for many years, the program received a boost in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, bringing funding up to a total of $50 million (U.S. Department of Education 2019c). As of 2019, there are 196 CCAMPIS sites around the country, with average annual grant levels at $170,017 (U.S. Department of Education 2018).


Portland State University’s (PSU) Helen Gordon Child Development Center, a long-time CCAMPIS grantee, has provided high-quality early childhood education to the children of Portland State students, faculty, and staff, and community members of Portland, Oregon, for over 40 years (Portland State College of Education 2019). Located on campus, the center is open 5 days a week from 7:30am-5:30pm and serves over 200 children ages four months to 5 years. As a lab school, the center also offers professional learning opportunities and collaborates with students and faculty from early childhood education, child and family studies, social work, and psychology. Center educators serve as mentors to students learning to work with young children, and students are able to work as student-employee assistant teachers (Portland State College of Education 2019). Between 2014 and 2018, PSU’s CCAMPIS grant allowed for subsidized education and care for eligible students whose children were enrolled. The grant also added two additional full-time lead teachers and two graduate assistantships to enhance and expand the center’s classrooms and curriculum. An evaluation of the grant’s impact found that overall family well-being improved, demonstrated by parents reporting that they had more time to spend with their children and that they experienced reduced financial stress. Participation in the program also allowed parents to take more credits each term, speeding their time to program completion; take advantage of available resources (e.g. computer labs or library services); and participate in activities that strengthened their academic outcomes, such as having more time to study, participating in study groups, and being more productive in class (Portland State University CCAMPIS Program 2018).


Using College-Head Start Partnerships to Increase Access for Student Parents

Partnerships between Head Start programs and college campuses represent one strategy for providing access to high-quality early education to the children of parents who are pursuing postsecondary education or who might want to enroll. Proximity between a Head Start center and a college campus has the potential to facilitate connections for parents to resources and provides an assurance that parents who receive Head Start care also benefit from the wraparound family supports that are a key piece of the Head Start model.


Washington State Community College District #17 in Spokane, Washington (known as Community Colleges of Spokane) is the Head Start, Early Head Start, and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) grantee for six counties in Eastern Washington.[5] The district manages more than 10 centers, two of which are located on local community college campuses. Spokane Community College (SCC)’s Bigfoot Child Care Center and Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC)’s Early Learning Center are both dedicated to serving student parents. Each campus has had a child care center since the 1970s. Both nationally-accredited centers began prioritizing students for care in the early 1990s due to a recognition by the administration that a large share of their student bodies were parents with low incomes, for whom affordable child care was integral to their ability to enter and complete college. Together, the two centers currently provide slots for over 200 children (infant to five years old) for more than 10 hours per day, 5 days a week, as well as discounted summer care for Pell-eligible students through their CCAMPIS grant. The district blends and braids funding from a number of sources, such as Head Start and Early Head Start, Washington State child care subsidies, CCAMPIS, Pell grants, and private pay (including student activity funds). This blended funding model ensures parents have access to full-day care.[6]


State-Wide Collaborations between Higher Education and Early Education that Provide Child Care Support for College Students


A number of states, including New York and Minnesota (as described above), Georgia, and Arkansas, have established state-wide coordination mechanisms across their early childhood and higher education systems. In some cases, these efforts are longstanding and well-established, whereas other innovative statewide efforts (notably in Georgia) have emerged more recently. Statewide coordination has the potential to communicate far-reaching goals and build sustainable networks and infrastructure to keep early education and higher education partnerships thriving over the long term.


In 1995, Minnesota established the Postsecondary Child Care Grant Program, managed by the Department of Higher Education and funded with state higher education dollars to help subsidize the cost of child care for student parents. [7] State public postsecondary institutions, private baccalaureate degree-granting colleges or universities, and nonprofit two-year vocational and technical schools may receive the grants and disburse funds to eligible students. Students can receive up to $3,000 for each eligible child per academic year, although the campus financial aid officer may apply to the state for approval to increase grants by up to 10 percent to compensate for higher market charges for infant care in a community (Minnesota Statutes § 136A.125). Students can combine grant funds with assistance from Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).


In Georgia, the Boost: Making College Possible Program represents an effort by Quality Care for Children, a Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, to support quality educational opportunities for parents and their children and to break the cycle of poverty among Georgia families from low-income backgrounds.[8] First piloted in 2016 and implemented fully in 2017, Boost provides child care scholarship funds to Pell-eligible junior and senior student parents with a 2.0 GPA or higher enrolled at Clayton State, Georgia Southern, Savannah State, or Columbus State universities and who are at risk of leaving school before completing their educational programs. The program awards approximately $7,500 per child per year, and covers 100 percent of the cost of child care up to $125 a week (which typically covers the full cost of care) while recipients pursue a postsecondary education (Quality Care for Children 2019). The program is funded through private dollars from local foundations, corporate partners, and private donations.[9] As of December 2018, the program had served 224 student parents, over half of whom were first-generation students. A review of scholarship recipients’ outcomes found that they took more classes (an increase of 25 percent in course load), made better grades (an increase of 7 percent in overall GPA, for an average GPA of 3.0, compared with 2.6 for Pell recipients without children), and had an on-time graduation rate twice the national 6-year graduation rate for student parents (67 percent compared with 33 percent, respectively; Quality Care for Children 2019).


The New York State Office of Child and Family Services dedicates CCDBG funding to the state college system to pay a portion of student parents’ child care costs at campus child care centers. Contracts provided $2.213 million in tuition subsidies in fiscal year 2018 to the State University of New York (SUNY) and $2.161 million to the City University of New York (CUNY; New York Office of Child and Family Services 2019). The state has also used higher education dollars from an Operating Fund to support the centers directly since 1981. SUNY child care centers serve over 5,000 children at 53 centers across the state, in addition to providing three child care referral programs (The State University of New York n.d.). Twenty-two of these centers are located on state-operated campuses and 31 at community colleges. All SUNY child care centers serve student parents, faculty, and staff, and many also serve community members. Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) rules allow states to contract directly with child care providers, in addition to providing subsidy to individuals. States can use this mechanism to create child care slots available to student parents. They may also use CCDBG funding to contract with college campus child care centers or nearby sites able to provide care for college students’ children.


The Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) uses TANF funding to help adults with low incomes acquire the degrees or credentials necessary to qualify for employment in selected high-demand, high-wage industries, in addition to providing them with case management support.[10] The state Department of Higher Education, which administers the program, recognized that access to child care services was variable across the state and gave their community college partners the flexibility to use the funding to pay for child care as needed.[11] The participating 22 community colleges and three technical schools may use their funds to pay for child care in a local center or family child care home for qualifying student parents, without need for family copayment. An evaluation of CPI after 10 years and close to 30,000 participants found that program participants had double the college completion rates of the control group, and for participants of color, completion rates were three times the rate of the control group (College Counts 2018).


Washington State has utilized federal SNAP Education and Training (E&T) dollars, which include an uncapped federal match of up to 50 percent of nonfederal state program expenditures, to provide child care and other supportive services to adults in workforce development programs in community colleges and other settings (Hess et al. 2016). The program allows college students who meet program eligibility requirements to qualify for the Basic Food Education and Training Program (BFET), which includes child care, among an array of available supports (Washington Department of Social and Health Services n.d.). Single mothers of children age 11 or younger attending higher education are exempted from BFET work requirements while they are in school (Washington Administrative Code 388-482-0005).[12]


Making College Opportunities Available to Parents Who Use Head Start and Child Care

A number of Head Start and child care programs around the country have developed programs to make education and training available to the parents they serve. Many of these programs are designed to train parents for jobs with a high demand for workers in their communities.


Saint Clair County Head Start, located in Pell City, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, provides single mothers with both child care and postsecondary education and training through a partnership funded by the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, and includes Jefferson Community College, the Alabama Career Center, and the First United Methodist Church of Pell City. The program aims to help single mothers get job training in a field where they can earn a livable wage in a reasonable amount of time.[13] Since 2013, the program has served nearly 100 women, helping them earn credentials for in-demand occupations, such as welding, pharmacy tech, and computer tech, while also providing them with high-quality child care. The courses typically run for 12 to 16 weeks and the majority take place in the same building as the Head Start program. In cases where special equipment is needed, such as for the welding certificate program, courses are held at a satellite campus of Jefferson State that is easily accessible from the Head Start site. Courses are structured to fit the scheduling needs of mothers, so all classes occur between 8am and 2pm, while care is provided by the Head Start program. Mothers are connected to job opportunities with local employers by a job coach and the Alabama Career Center and receive additional supportive services and lunches from the local church. The program boasts a 95 percent completion rate and the most recent cohort had a 70 percent rate of employment for participants who completed it.[14]


The Community Action Project of Tulsa County (“CAP Tulsa”) in Oklahoma won a federal Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) to prepare parents of children enrolled in their Head Start program for jobs in the growing healthcare industry by creating the CareerAdvance® model. CAP Tulsa is an Early Head Start/Head Start grantee, offering birth to age five child development and comprehensive family support services, and is nationally recognized for its innovation and goal-driven approach to program management. One strategic goal of CAP Tulsa is to raise educational attainment, employment prospects, and earnings potential among parents, with the expectation that children will also benefit in the long-term.[15] To further this goal, CAP Tulsa partners with local community and technical colleges to provide access to training programs for employer-recognized credentials in the high-demand health care sector to recurring cohorts of parents with children in Early Head Start/Head Start. CAP Tulsa arranges flexible and convenient course scheduling for these parents, while also providing Early Head Start/Head Start early learning services, additional child care hours as needed, and individualized coaching to support student parents during their educational programs. Initial analysis of the CareerAdvance® program showed that 61 percent of the participants completed their occupational certification at the end of one year, compared with only three percent among the control group, in addition to reporting higher levels of commitment to their careers, reduced stress, and a reduction in chronic absenteeism of their children from the Head Start program (Chase-Lansdale et al. 2017). CAP Tulsa’s community and technical college partners identified unmet needs for early childhood services among their other students and are now discussing how to open a child development program on campus with CAP Tulsa.[16]


Total Action for Progress (TAP) is the community action agency in Roanoke, Virginia, which is also a Head Start grantee. TAP proposed to offer parents with low incomes, including parents using Early Head Start and Head Start programs, an opportunity to pursue intensive training for health care, information technology, or advance manufacturing credentials, and to receive assistance to secure child care while in training. They modeled the program on the Tulsa CareerAdvance® model. About one-third of the parents in the program come from the Head Start programs, usually referred by the family support specialist. TAP budgets about $2,000 per parent to help them pay for child care. Yet, many parents can still not access high-quality licensed care because of the lack of providers in rural areas, the lack of available slots to keep siblings together, or the lack of available slots for the times parents need. Many parents participating in the program use funds to pay family, friends, and neighbors to care for their children on nights and weekends.[17]


The program was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI), which awarded approximately $54 million in competitive grants to fourteen private and public sector entities in 2016. Grantees could choose to address child care issues by:

‣  “improving coordination and collaboration among workforce development training programs and child care and other early childhood education services at the local, state, and/or federal level;

‣  building effective community partnerships that leverage public and private resources to better serve individuals with child care needs in overcoming barriers to training and improve employment outcomes;

‣  coordinating with existing child care consumer education and referral systems that can facilitate the streamlining of complex services for working families in need of training and child care services, and if no such systems exist, establish a referral system…” (U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration



The U.S. Department of Labor grants provided flexibility to communities and agencies to develop their own solutions. Several grantees planned to pilot cohort model approaches with parents seeking education or training, so that they could help manage child care placements to coordinate with parents’ schedules.


Training Early Childhood Educators through Campus Child Care and Head Start Programs


The need to raise credentials and compensation of the early childhood workforce is one of the most critical challenges facing that field and is an opportunity for collaboration with the higher education community. Approximately 2 million adults are employed in early care and education to teach and care for children under age five in the United States (National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team 2013). They provide critical early learning experiences that promote long-term benefits related to cognitive and social emotional development (Camilli et al. 2010; McCoy et al. 2017). Despite the importance of their work to children and families, the early childhood workforce is grossly underpaid, with a median hourly wage of $10.60 (National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team 2013). Almost half of early childhood educators employed in centers have not earned a college degree, and over two-thirds of those providing home-based child care are without a degree (National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team 2013).


A 2015 National Academy of Science – Institute of Medicine (NAS IOM) report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, called for policymakers at all levels to take action. Since then, a national collaborative of 15 organizations, cutting across early childhood and higher education sectors—called Power to the Profession—was launched to lead national dialogue on raising standards and compensation.[18] A collaborative of foundations has pooled over $20 million to invest in improving state early childhood professional development systems.


Leadership from both the early and higher education systems is required to help low-income adults complete early childhood degrees, often while working and balancing family needs. A significant proportion of the early childhood workforce (for example, 34 percent of home-based care providers) has some college credits, demonstrating an interest and the potential to complete degrees, with the right supports (National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team 2013).


A recent example of systems working together comes from Virginia, where the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the state Community College Association collaborated on a study of the early childhood workforce that is being used to inform plans by the state’s School Readiness Committee, created by the General Assembly in 2016 (Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Virginia 2017). In November 2018, Governor Northam announced changes that make it easier for early childhood educators to pursue a pathway to higher education, by connecting state-specific early care and education credentials, associate degrees, and baccalaureate programs. The state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities collaborated with state early care and education leaders and the Board of Education to make changes to internal and public policy to achieve this seamless pathway (Virginia Early Childhood Foundation n.d.). The School Readiness Committee continues to consider compensation challenges in the state as its work continues. These kinds of initiatives can also work in tandem with campus child care programs, which can serve as laboratory settings and sources of child care for students.


For colleges offering early care and education degrees, onsite programs facilitate student practicum placement, student employment, and research opportunities (Boressoff 2012). Many communities are working to fill a growing demand for highly qualified early childhood educators to meet state quality and credential standards as governed by the federal CCDBG program. Child care that serves college students can also provide valuable onsite training opportunities for teachers pursuing credentials.


The Sophia Bremer Child Development Center (SBCDC) located on the Olympic College campus in Bremerton, Washington, provides care to the children of Olympic College student parents (and faculty and staff in limited cases) and training opportunities for early childhood students and educators.[19] The SBCDC building houses Olympic College’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) department. Classes take place in classrooms in the same building as the child care center, and students complete their practicum hours at the center and regularly use the center’s observation rooms as part of their training. SBCDC staff can also enroll in the ECE program to complete a certificate or associate degree. Olympic College is currently developing a partnership with Western Washington University (WWU) to allow Olympic College ECE students to transfer to WWU to complete a bachelor’s degree, and for WWU’s ECE students to use the SBCDC to complete their practicum training. This partnership will allow existing ECE providers and students to get the credentials needed to meet Washington’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) requirements for a high rating.[20]


The state of Washington is committed to increasing the number of credentialed early childhood workers to meet the state’s demand for highly qualified teachers. The Early Achievers Opportunity Grant, for example, is a state-wide financial aid program for current child care providers and educators to earn credentials and associate degrees in early childhood education. The grant covers the cost of tuition and fees (up to 52 credits to be used within 4 years) and books and supplies (up to $1,000).[21] In addition, the Washington State Association of Head Start & Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) has helped several Head Start programs partner with local colleges to implement parent education pilot projects. Three programs have received small grants to design programs to help Head Start staff, Head Start parents, and community child care providers obtain additional education. In Mt. Vernon, Washington, Skagit Valley College Head Start has developed a similar program with private, institutional, and Head Start funding.[22] Their Head Start Early Childhood Education Cohort Program has helped nearly 50 staff members, Head Start parents, and community members earn either their Initial Certificate (the equivalent of a Child Development Associate credential) or a Short Certificate (one credential above the Initial Certificate), which can both lead to associate degrees. An additional 20 participants are currently enrolled in the one-year State Certificate program, which is the final certification before the associate degree level. Registration, books and materials, dinner, and child care during classes are provided to cohort participants free of cost.[23]

Bringing it All Together: Georgia’s Comprehensive State-Wide, Cross-Sector Collaboration


Georgia is pursuing an array of strategies to coordinate services across its early childhood and higher education systems and implement a statewide two-generation approach.[24] The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is partnering with the Technical College System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Economic Development – Workforce Division, and the University System of Georgia to increase postsecondary degree attainment among low-income parents. DECAL oversees the state’s child care subsidy program, among other early childhood programs and services, and undertook the effort to promote human capital development among their clients. Some activities of the partnership include:


‣  Reviewing data across systems. Financial aid data shows that in 2015-2016, 27 percent of Georgia’s technical college students were women with dependent children. Data from a 2016 survey of 602 child care subsidy program participants conducted by the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) showed that that more than two out of five parents receiving child care subsidies had completed some college coursework, but had no degree or certification, and one out of five was a current student (Jacobs n.d.).[25] After reviewing the data from both sources, the collaborative team concluded that the workforce and early childhood systems were likely to be serving the same families, and could potentially improve parents’ chances of completion if they collaborated.


‣  Removing obstacles to receiving child care assistance as a student. As described above, DECAL revised state child care assistance policies in 2018 to allow parents to count their class attendance hours for associate degree and vocational training programs towards their state-approved activity requirement to qualify for child care assistance.


‣  Cross-training front line staff. DECAL and the state technical college system co-hosted trainings for “student navigators” stationed in each campus along with the child care assistance intake administrators to promote understanding of each other’s systems and develop collaborative partnerships working together for student parent families.


‣  Encouraging local innovation. DECAL, partnering with the state university and technical college systems, made “Two-Generation Innovation Grants” available for local projects to pilot or expand initiatives bringing together the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce systems to deliver benefits to parents and children together. Three counties won funding in 2018 and a second round of funding is scheduled to be awarded in 2019.


Georgia was one of five states selected in 2016 to be part of the Parents and Children Thriving Together (PACTT) Network, a state-to-state peer learning network using two-generation approaches to drive systems change coordinated by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).


Georgia’s initiative demonstrates that systems change is easier when leaders facilitate collaboration and build buy-in across agencies and constituencies. Top executive branch leaders, for example, have leverage to convene agency heads across systems and call for new thinking to address population needs. Pioneers in building the connections between postsecondary and early care and education often mention the importance of finding leaders to champion and catalyze change.


Strategies for bridging our early and higher education systems


Recommendations for Coordinating Across Systems


Promoting families’ ability to achieve economic security and mobility requires intentional collaboration across systems. Bringing the early and higher education systems together more strategically requires engagement and innovative thinking at different levels of leadership and across sectors. Policymakers, agency directors, philanthropists, college administrators, nonprofit and front-line program staff, and student parents all have a role to play in promoting strategic systems integration that benefits families. Based on interviews with leaders across the country and on the examples highlighted in this report, a set of recommendations emerged that may help catalyze partnerships between the early education and higher education systems.


  • Connect system leaders at the local, state, and national levels.

Advocates, early childhood and postsecondary service providers, students, and parents can learn where decisions are made to engage and educate systems leaders about opportunities to collaborate across early and higher education. State-level decision points vary by sector and by state. For higher education, they could include the governor’s education advisor, a state board or commission of higher education, or state legislative committees. Individual colleges and universities have boards, presidents, and chancellors who wield significant power. Within the early care and education system, if a state has an early childhood advisory board, children’s cabinet, or a secretary-level leader of early care and education, they may reach out to higher education leaders at similar levels of state government. Some states have a single early care and education department or office, while others may have separate agencies operating the CCDBG block grant, state prekindergarten program, Head Start, and other early childhood programs. State agencies that administer the federal TANF, SNAP E&T, and WIOA programs are other potential partners whose clients and funding streams often overlap with those served by early childhood and higher education programs.  At the federal level, agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Care, the U.S. Department of Education TRIO programs, the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, and members of the House and Senate education committees can play an important role in advancing progress.


  • Share student parent stories and coordinated messages with early childhood and higher education leaders.

When policymakers and other leaders hear first-hand experiences of parents working to improve their lives and the lives of their families through higher education, and the obstacles they face, it can inspire action. Front-line child care and higher education providers together can also play a powerful role. The City University of New York, for example, has child care centers on nearly every campus because student parents organized and went to Albany to speak to their legislators, and continue to do so every year. The combination of university representatives, students, and child care advocates all explaining the need for campus child care can make a powerful impression on state legislators.[26]


  • Collect data on student parents, and supports available to serve them, to inform both systems.

The higher education and early childhood systems each have separate data and accountability systems. Though often collecting information on the same families, rarely do these systems collect or share data that would be useful to the other. For example, how many students are parents? Which college campuses have Head Start onsite? Does having child care available on campus, or receiving child care assistance, contribute to better completion rates?


Where information is collected, there are promising results. Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York conducted one of the few studies that tracked campus child care use and student outcomes over time, finding higher year-to-year persistence and completion rates among student parents who utilized the on-campus child care program as compared to those who did not (DeMario 2017).


Data on students’ parent status, like those collected by Monroe Community College, are rare in postsecondary education, as the large majority of institutions and state higher education systems do not ask students whether they have children.[27] Postsecondary institutions cannot increase completion rates without understanding the challenges that their adult, working, and parenting students face, and that differ from those experienced by students coming directly from high school.


Higher education institutions should collect data on the parental status of their students as a matter of course. One source of data on the proportion of students with dependents is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Every college financial aid office has data collected from students’ FAFSA forms. Since many students do not complete the FAFSA, however, and the FAFSA doesn’t ask for the age or number of students’ dependents, FAFSA data exclude some students. Some institutions or state systems (such as Washington’s State Board of Community and Technical Colleges) ask about parent status on registration forms.


When early childhood systems have data describing the higher education participation of the parents of the children in their care, they can use it to engage partners in the postsecondary community. In some cases, existing data collection could be augmented to focus more on understanding how parents in both systems are being served. For example, Head Start could add more specific questions to their Program Information Report data on whether grantees or their affiliates are located on college campuses, the types of education or training parents seek, and whether parents are moving toward their goals. Needs assessments required to receive Head Start funding or grants like SWFI could request data on student parents and available high-quality child care on campus or in the community. When policymakers implement standards for early childhood education qualifications, they can use data to demonstrate training needs and engage higher education in working with early educators to support their success. Some data that can help make the case for systems collaboration to meet mutual goals are currently available; for a list of some of these resources, see Appendix C.


  • Increase funding for child care for student parents and cross-system collaboration.

The federal CCAMPIS program received a significant increase in fiscal year 2018 (and continued in 2019), bringing its total funding to $50 million—three times as much as the program had been funded since its inception. Beyond this important increase, more funding is needed to support the growing population of parents who are pursuing higher education. States and communities have used federal funding sources, state higher education dollars, and in some cases, private funding to expand access to child care for student parents. State and federal policymakers, as well as philanthropists, should consider how to encourage creative uses of existing funding to make access easier for student parents. They should also work to establish new sources of funding to support cross-system collaborations to increase education access for student parents and create training opportunities for the early childhood workforce. In addition, funding to pay the costs of cross-system planning and start-up can create incentives to get the conversation started in the midst of busy schedules.


  • Change state child care assistance policies to make more child care available to college students.

Community and college leaders, philanthropists, early childhood providers, and student parents can advocate to change state rules for child care assistance to make it easier to access affordable care while furthering family educational goals. Child care subsidy eligibility requirements can be modified to allow college students easier access by:

‣  allowing postsecondary education to qualify as a work activity;

‣  providing assistance hours to cover study time;

‣  eliminating or reducing the number of hours student parents need to work to less than 15 hours per week;

‣  allowing all degree types in eligibility requirements;

‣  using contracts to child care programs or family child care networks on or near college campuses;

‣  allowing children of student parents to qualify for a state prekindergarten program or Head Start/Early Head Start during school hours and other child care assistance at other times of the day or night; and,

‣  using the quality funding states receive from CCDBG to build the supply of care at non-traditional hours and increase quality of service for student parents in general.


In addition to having the ability to prioritize populations for receiving CCDBG child care assistance, states can use CCDBG funding to contract with child care programs on or near college campuses to reserve slots for children of student parents who qualify. Decisions about the child care program are typically made in either the department of human services or the early learning division of the state department of education, depending on the lead agency administering CCDBG funds. In some states, the state legislature sets key policies.


  • Work across systems to make it easier for student parents to find information about child care and other benefits.

Colleges can train staff to share information on accessing child care, public assistance, and other available supports at a campus student center, family resource center, academic counseling office, or the financial aid office. Community organizations or government agencies can provide expertise and services to ensure student parents have easy access. Inviting community partners to campus to share information and provide in-person support can create one-stop access for student parents, whose schedules may otherwise impede their ability to access those services.


  • Invest in Evidence-Building and Convening Across Systems.

Philanthropists can leverage their unique convening power to engage key stakeholders, cultivate new champions, and incentivize coordination across systems. Targeted investments in research to build the evidence base for the role of child care in families’ educational and economic success, and in tools to assist coordination, can also further progress towards systems integration.


  • Offer federal and state incentives to bring systems together.

Financial incentives and start-up funding can encourage stakeholders from different systems and services to come together at a shared table. State funding for higher education remains significantly lower than pre-recession levels; in 2017, state funding for public colleges and universities was $9 billion below 2008 funding levels (adjusting for inflation; Mitchell, Leachman, and Masterson 2017). Against this backdrop, most postsecondary institutions will require new resources to address specific student needs. Federal and state pilot programs or competitive programs to expand child care and Head Start for student parents, while training early childhood workers,   could help reach more eligible children. Additional funding and incentives to focus on the student parent population are needed to bring attention to the potential for impact across generations.


  • Leverage federal/state programs to connect low-income student parents with subsidized child care.

Many of the programs featured in this report are using diverse funding streams to support student parents, working across the higher education and early childhood sectors. Federal funding streams that flow to states along with significant latitude on how to administer them—such as CCDBG, TANF, SNAP E&T, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—may be used to support student parents’ access to child care. States may also decide to use a portion of higher education dollars to pay for child care for student parents, as in the case of Minnesota. Since these funds typically flow through different legislative committees, agencies, and programs, leaders and administrators need more information on taking advantage of these opportunities to benefit families in their states.


Both the higher education and the early care and education systems face challenges in meeting important goals that could increase the quality and effectiveness of their systems. By working together, they would be more likely to meet some of those key goals, as well as improve access to education for and well-being of children and families.


Appendix A. List of Expert Interviewees

Patty Allen
District Director
Spokane Head Start
Spokane, WA


Kristin Bernhard, J.D.
Former Deputy Commissioner for System Reform
Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
Atlanta, GA


Janae Bradford
Assistant Director, Family Advancement
Community Action Program (CAP) Tulsa
Tulsa, OK


Collin Callaway, Ed.D.
Chief Operations Officer
Arkansas Community Colleges
Little Rock, AR


Steven Dow
Executive Director
Community Action Program (CAP) Tulsa
Tulsa, OK


Robert Korycinski
Director of Administrative Operations
New York State Office of Child and Family Services
Rochester, NY


Chris Lincoln
Director of Early Childhood Education
Northampton Community College
Bethlehem, PA


Joan Lombardi, Ph.D
Senior Advisor
Buffett Early Childhood Foundation and Bernard van Leer Foundation


Mary Ellen Lynkins
Director, Early Learning Grant Programs
Skagit Valley College
Mt. Vernon, WA


Janice Molnar, Ph.D.
Deputy Commissioner
New York State Office of Child and Family Services
Rochester, NY


David Moore
Project Director
Total Action for Progress (TAP) SwiftStart
Roanoke, VA


Susan Neimand, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education
Miami Dade College
Miami, FL


Will Parnell, Ed.D.
Professor and Department Chair, Curriculum and Instruction
Pedagogical Liaison, Helen Gordon Center
Portland State University
Portland, OR


Betty Pearsall
Director of Child Care (retired)
City University of New York
New York, NY


Joel Ryan
Executive Director
Washington State Association of Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
Bellevue, WA


Cynthia Savini
Director, Sophia Bremer Child Development Center
Olympic College
Bremerton, WA


Tara Smith
State Two Generation Program Coordinator
Governor Hickenlooper’s office
Denver, CO


Pam Tatum
President and CEO
Quality Care for Children
Atlanta, GA


LaToya Threatt
Executive Director
St. Clair County Head Start
Pell City, AL


Appendix B. Funding Sources for Student Parents’ Child Care Access

Child Care Means Access in School (CCAMPIS) Grant

‣  CCAMPIS is a federally funded competitive grant program that awards grants to institutions of higher education to provide access to subsidized child care to Pell-eligible student parents (U.S. Department of Education 2019b). It is the only specific source of federal funding dedicated to providing access to affordable child care for college students with children.

‣  CCAMPIS is administered by the U.S. Department of Education and authorized by the Higher Education Act.

‣  Institutions are eligible for CCAMPIS if they awarded at least $350,000 in Pell grants to students in the previous fiscal year, and they are eligible to apply for a grant size of up to one percent of that Pell grant total (20 U.S.C. 1070e).

‣  In FY 2018, the CCAMPIS budget was $50 million—three times more than funding for the past 15 years (S. Department of Education 2019c). CCAMPIS grants ranged from $14,294 to $558,988 in 2018 and were awarded to a total of 196 programs as of the end of 2018 (U.S. Department of Education 2019a). Additional grants will be awarded in 2019, for an expected total of roughly 300 grantees.


Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

‣  CCDF is a block grant provided to states, territories, and tribal governments to help low-income families access and pay for child care that supports employment and education and prepares children for success in school. CCDF is also intended to support child care licensing, quality improvement systems, and professional development for child care providers. It is the main source of federal funding available to provide subsidized child care to qualifying families (Office of Child Care 2018b).

‣  CCDF is administered by the Office of Child Care in the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2014, the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the law that governs the CCDF, was reauthorized.

‣  States provide CCDF-subsidized child care to families through vouchers, grants, or contracts with providers. States must also use part of their CCDF block grant to fund quality improvement of child care and services to parents, such as services provided by resource and referral agencies.

‣  Under federal regulations, families with children under age 13 and with incomes that do not exceed 85 percent of their state’s median income are eligible to receive CCDF subsidies if parents are working and/or attending education or training. States have flexibility to determine additional eligibility requirements for receiving subsidized care beyond federal requirements (Administration for Children and Families n.d.).

‣  In FY 2018, CCDF provided $8.1 billion in funding to states, territories, and tribal governments (Office of Child Care 2018b). It served an average of 2.1 million children per month in 2015 (the most recent year for which data are available), just 15 percent of all eligible children under federal rules (Chien 2019). In addition, 19 states in 2018 had waiting lists or frozen intake for assistance in 2018 (Schulman 2018).


Head Start

‣  Head Start is a federal program that provides high-quality, culturally-responsive early childhood education to children and supportive services to qualifying families. It promotes school readiness through educational, nutritional, health, social, and other services, and provides support to parents to increase family well-being through goal setting and engagement with children’s learning and development (Office of Head Start 2019).

‣  Head Start is administered by the Office of Head Start in the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and authorized by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.

‣  Specialized grant programs within Head Start include Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) funding, American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) funding, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) funding (Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center 2019).

‣  Families are eligible for Head Start services if they have children who are 0-5 years old and have incomes that are below the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines. Families receiving public assistance and/or who are homeless, as well as foster children regardless of family income, are also eligible. In certain cases, families with incomes of 100-130 percent of poverty may also be served by Head Start, if the share of participants from those families does not exceed 35 percent of total program participants (45 CFR § 1302.12).

‣  In total, Head Start programs received $10 billion in 2019 (Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center 2018). The year prior, 1,700 agencies around the country provided Head Start services to 1.05 million children ages birth to five and pregnant women. A subset of those agencies were colleges (Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center 2019).


Appendix C. Making the Case: State by State Data Sources

Understanding parents’ need for child care to be able to pursue higher education is essential to states’ strategies for achieving ambitious postsecondary attainment goals. The following resources provide insight into how supporting low-income parents’ access to affordable child care can help states accomplish dramatic increases in the number of adults with postsecondary credentials.


  • The Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care – CCDBG 2016 Preliminary Data and Charts. Table 10: Reasons for Care by State


  • Urban Institute – State Child Care Assistance Policies for Parents in Education and Training


  • Institute for Women’s Policy Research – Child Care for Parents in College: A State-by-State Assessment


  • Education Commission of the States – Postsecondary Attainment Goals and Plans


  • Center for the Study of the Child Care Workforce Index – State by State Profiles on the Child Care Workforce


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Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. n.d. “Virginia Announces New Educational Pathways for Early Childhood Teachers.” <> (accessed April 2, 2019).


Washington Department of Social and Health Services. n.d. “Basic Food Employment & Training (BFET).” <> (accessed March 26, 2019).


[1] For more information on Lumina’s Equity Imperative, see For more information on the Gates Foundation’s Intermediaries for Scale initiative, see


[2] Personal communication with Dr. Susan Neimand, Dean, School of Education, Miami Dade College, March 21, 2019.


[3] For more information on Miami Dade College’s Single Stop program, see


[4] For more information on the University of Michigan’s child care resources, see


[5] The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) program is Washington State’s pre-kindergarten program for families with low-incomes with children ages 3-4 years.


[6] Personal communication with Patty Allen, District Director of Spokane Head Start, February 27, 2019.


[7] For more information on the Postsecondary Child Care Grant Program, see


[8] For more information on The Boost: Making College Possible Program, see


[9] Personal communication with Pam Tatum, Quality Care for Children, January 15, 2019.


[10] To learn more about the Career Pathways Initiative, visit


[11] Personal communication with Collin Callaway, Chief Operations Officer, Arkansas Community Colleges, December 6, 2018.


[12] For more information on Washington State’s BFET Program and the Arkansas CPI, visit


[13] Interview with Latoya Orr Threatt, Saint Claire County Head Start, January 14, 2019.


[14] Ibid.


[15] Personal communication with Steven Dow, Executive Director, CAP Tulsa, November 30, 2018.


[16] Personal communication with Janae Bradford, Assistant Director, Family Advancement, CAP Tulsa, December 6, 2018.


[17] Personal communication with David Moore, TAP SwiftStart Project Director, January 10, 2019.


[18] See


[19] For more information on the Sophia Bremer Child Development Center, see


[20] Personal communication with Cynthia Savini, Program Director, Sophia Bremer Child Development Center, January 7, 2019.


[21] For more information about the Early Achiever’s Grant, visit


[22] The Skagit Valley cohort program is supported by the Discuren Foundation, United Way, other foundation and private funders, Skagit Valley College, and Head Start funds.


[23] Personal communication with Mary Ellen Lykins, Program Director, Skagit/Islands Head Start and Early Head Start, December 4, 2018.


[24] Two-generation approaches are those that address the needs of children and parents together. For more information visit


[25] Personal communication with Kristen Bernhard, former Deputy Commissioner for System Reform, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, November 9, 2018.


[26] Personal communication with Betty Pearsall, retired City University of New York (CUNY) Director of Child Care, November 29, 2018.


[27] Interviews with National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers and various student parent programs, 2019. A small number of institutions and college systems have used the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to approximate the number of student parents enrolled. While the FAFSA does collect information on whether students have dependents, however, it does not specify what type of dependent and does not ask students to report the number or age of dependents they have, making it an incomplete method of capturing the full student parent population. Privacy concerns are also a barrier to many institutions using FAFSA data for this purpose.




IWPR wishes to express gratitude to the many individuals who contributed to this work. The early and higher education experts and program leaders who were interviewed for this research provided valuable insight and input; IWPR is grateful for their time and expertise (a full list of experts and program leaders interviewed for this project can be found in Appendix A). Marjorie Simms, Managing Director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Gina Adams, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, and Luisa Deprez, Ph.D., Independent Scholar and Consultant and Professor Emerita at University of Southern Maine, reviewed the report and offered invaluable feedback. Dr. Elizabeth Noll, former IWPR Senior Research Scientist, provided important early contributions to the research. The authors also wish to thank Bethany Miller from the Kresge Foundation for her active interest in and support for IWPR’s research on integrating early and higher education systems, and Rosa Maria Castaneda and Quanic Fullard of the Annie E. Casey Foundation for their support of IWPR’s work on Head Start-college partnerships, which is discussed in this report. Additional thanks go to IWPR’s Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D., Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Associate Director of Research, Tessa Holtzman, Research Assistant, and Susana Contreras-Mendez, Research Associate, for their contributions to the research and feedback on report drafts, as well as Jennifer Clark, Communications Director, and Nicolas Martinez, Communications Associate, for their assistance with preparing and releasing the final report.