17 Dec, 2020, 09:00 ET
BOSTON, Dec. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education announced today that it is accepting submissions for the inaugural Family Child Care Innovation Networks Award. This new award is designed to spark, accelerate, and sustain community-based peer learning networks among family child care providers across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Family child care providers are an essential part of the early education and care ecosystem, in Massachusetts and across the nation, and have unique characteristics that will make them critical to this country's pandemic response and recovery.
"Family child care providers have so many strengths. They are set up to serve small, mixed-age groups of children, and they tend to be more affordable and flexible than many other types of early education programs – characteristics that make them appealing to families and communities, especially right now," said Stephanie Jones, Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "They are also more likely to be staffed by educators who reflect the racial, ethnic, and linguistic composition of the communities they serve than other program types."
But in recent years, family child care providers have struggled to maintain viability. They have also been especially hard hit by the pandemic, threatening their ability to support children and families in the months ahead. In response to a recent survey of early educators and caregivers across Massachusetts, part of the Early Learning Study at Harvard, nearly all (87%) family child care providers reported their income had been affected by the pandemic, which was not the case among those in other care types. Unsurprisingly, family child care providers also reported disproportionately high levels of stress and uncertainty about the future of their programs.
The Innovation Networks Award aims to highlight and strengthen the kinds of professional networks and reflective, collaborative practices that have been proven to enhance educators' job satisfaction, wellbeing, and the quality of their practice. The Initiative seeks applications from Massachusetts-based family child care providers who are at any stage in the process of developing a community-based peer learning network. Award funding may be used to enhance ongoing peer learning work or support new networks and collaborative learning opportunities.
"While in years past we have used the Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge to solicit new ideas and fresh thinking from across the country and field, we see an important opportunity to respond to the current moment, and our own research findings, in a meaningful way. This new award will help us support providers who are doing critical and innovative work across our state, at a time when connection and collaboration are more important than ever," said Nonie Lesaux, Academic Dean and the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Awards will be given in amounts of up to $5,000 depending on the nature of the applicants' needs and work. The funding may be used to cover investments and expenses associated with building and sustaining community-based peer learning networks, such as:
- Professional learning facilitators, trainers, or speakers
- Food or child care during network meetings
- Technology needed for remote meetings and collaboration
- Curricular materials to support the work of the community of practice
In addition to receiving funding, awardees will be invited to share their innovative practices at a virtual convening in the spring of 2021.
Responding to the rich racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity that is a hallmark of the family child care community, applications will be offered in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Haitian Creole.
The deadline to submit applications is Friday, February 19, 2021. For more information about the Family Child Care Innovation Networks Award, please visit the Zaentz Initiative website. To apply, please visit https://bit.ly/FCCAwardApp.
Note: To avoid any conflict of interest, the faculty directors of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative, Professors Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones, will not participate in final award decisions.
About The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative
The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) promotes the knowledge, professional learning and collective action necessary to cultivate optimal early learning environments and experiences. The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative is supported by a $35.5 million gift from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, one of the largest gifts ever given to a university for advancing early childhood education.
Inkhouse (for Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative)
SOURCE Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative
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