There’s a huge demand for child care resources in this country. The need for high-quality child care as well as its benefit on society at large are well-documented, but it’s not always easy to find. Between the soaring costs of child care and the current climate changing the way we work, a child care resource and referral network can do all kinds of good.
If you’re searching for some kind of family resources list, a child care resource and referral network is a great place to turn. Here, we’ll explain the work they do and how they might be helpful for you and your family. We’ll touch briefly on the other kinds of invested parties they serve, but we’ll mostly narrow our focus on families in search of child care and a family resources list. Before we get into all that, though, let’s define our terms.
What is a child care resource and referral network?
A child care resource and referral network is an organization that has a goal of connecting parents and child care providers to the resources they need to thrive. They’re also sometimes just called child care resource networks or CCR&R networks. No matter what they’re called, they strive to help this incredibly complicated field by making sure those who offer services and resources can reach the families who need them and vice versa.
For Child Care Providers
This is less relevant to our purposes here, but an important part of any child care resource and referral network’s work is to get child care providers in touch with the training they need to offer the best possible care. These include offerings like professional development opportunities and regular training courses as well as more formal education. They might point you in the right direction toward scholarships, information, and anything else pertinent about certain training programs.
The more pertinent side of what child care resource and referral networks offer, though, is what they can do for families. Like we said earlier, these organizations are great places to find localized family resources lists. A child care resource and referral network is going to have plenty of information on what kinds of services are available to you, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for on hand, they’ll be able to link you up with an organization that does. We’re talking about help paying for child care, what to look for in a child care provider, and all kinds of other relevant tips regarding child care. We’ll get into the specifics in the following sections — after all, that’s what this blog post is all about!
So, a child care resource and referral network is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s an organization that’s a great first stop when you’re looking for anything in relation to the child care field. Now that we’ve got that baseline definition out of the way, let’s dive a little deeper into a family resources list. We’ll go over some of the different kinds of resources you can get in touch with through a child care resource and referral network.
What You Can Get at a Child Care Resource and Referral Network
Now that we’re aware of what a child care resource and referral network basically is, we can list what they offer in more detail. Keep in mind that they provide a whole lot more than this for different kinds of invested parties. And if you need something outside the scope of these services, go ahead and ask. The child care resource and referral network might be able to get you in touch with the right organization, even if they aren’t familiar with your specific need. No matter what item on your needed family resources list you’re looking for, these organizations can be a great place to start.
With all that said, here’s our non-comprehensive list of what a child care resource and referral network can help you with.
Referrals to Local Child Care Providers
This is probably the biggest ticket item on any family resources list. Parents want to know that they’re dropping their kids off at a reputable child care facility every day, but it can be hard to be sure of that. Any child care resource and referral network worth its salt is going to have some kind of way to search for local child care providers. They can give you the contact information for high-quality child care in your area, and you can take it from there. We’ll get deeper into what else they can do on the child care front in a later section, but for now, just know that these organizations are great places to start your child care search.
Information on State Licensing Requirements
This kind of information is there to make you feel more equipped to make that all-important child care decision. By understanding the different types of child care facilities out there, you’re better able to make the right choice for your family. It’s great to find more localized organization to help you with research about this topic because the rules vary from state to state. So, if you can find an organization in your area with information about local guidelines, then you’re going to be sure you’re getting everything relevant to your state.
In Missouri, at least, there are four different types of child care operations when it comes to licensing: Licensed, license-exempt, exempt, and six or fewer. You can learn more about what each of those categories entails with the help of your local child care resource and referral agency. It might not be as vital to your day-to-day as a family resources list, but it’s still a helpful way to narrow your child care search.
Information on Where to Get Help Paying for Child Care
It’s a well-known fact that child care in this country is prohibitively expensive for many families. Finding places that will help you pay for that essential service is a great way to make use of your local resource and referral agency. Part of any good family resources list includes financial help, especially when it comes to child care. They’ll have ideas on where to go for assistance, both at the state level and at more localized organizations and opportunities. Definitely take advantage of the help you can get.
Some opportunities might be somewhat obvious, like getting a discount at a child care center for sending multiple children, but others are less advertised. A child care resource and referral agency can direct you toward assistance you might never have thought of otherwise. And even if you think you’ve exhausted your options, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
One of these agencies or networks in your area might allow you to search for the kind of community resource you need to build out your family resources list. Different categories you might be looking to fill could include safety, health, recreation, education, family supports, or any other kind of community resource that could help your children or your family.
This is another benefit to seeking help from a local network. These community resources are based within the neighborhoods they serve, meaning they’re going to be dialed into the specific needs of the area. It takes a village, after all. Getting in contact with all the resources within that
“village” or community is a great way to fill out your family resources list. Put together all the different help you can get, and you’ve got a great start to a better life for your child. A child care resource and referral agency can help you do just that.
State and National Resources
It’s true that we just touted the benefits of looking for very localized resources, down to the county or city level. That way, they’ll be more in tune with your specific community’s needs. However, there’s also a huge benefit to looking at the resources at broader levels, like state and national resources.
The items at this level on the family resources list aren’t just financial help or child care centers. They might include organizations, programs, or activities that help you find a job, housing, or other basic needs. If you can’t find enough assistance at the local level, go broader, and vice versa. A child care resource and referral network can help you find the right mix of support and solutions.
General Child Care Information
We’re talking about terms and definitions relevant to this complex field as well as tips and tricks of the trade. As we already mentioned, these agencies can help you learn about the different forms of licensing for child care providers in your area. They’re also a great resource on what to look for when you’re considering different places to send your children. They’ll have definitions on what each type of child care setting entails, and they might even have lists of things to look for and questions to ask when you’re contacting those different providers.
If you’re looking for any type of general information about anything on your family resources list, one of these agencies or networks is a great place to start. They have a wealth of knowledge and experts backing them, and they should be able to answer your questions. If they can’t, they should be able to put you in contact with someone who can.
What You Can’t Get at a Child Care Resource and Referral Network
Given that we’ve already given a pretty expansive view on what you can get through a child care resource and referral network, it should already be pretty obvious what you can’t get. However, for the sake of completion, we’re going to clarify a few things in this section. We’ll start with the family side of things, since that’s been our main focus here, and then we’ll move into the topics more relevant to child care providers.
First of all, child care resource and referral networks do not actually care for children. They’ll give you all the information you need to find high-quality child care in your area and give you a family resources list, but they won’t take the kids themselves. The groups are mostly very localized, though, so they should have a good idea on what’s available near you.
For any child care providers looking to get something other than a family resources list out of one of these organizations, know that they’re not handing out degrees or certifications. They don’t usually put on training events themselves. However, like we’ve already said, they’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction. They might also offer their own programs to help you pay for certain kinds of trainings. But again, they’re usually not offering that education themselves.
You should also ensure that you’re reaching out to the right organization for the thing you need. For example, there are national networks and more local ones. You should be in contact with the child care resource and referral network in your specific area to get the best local recommendations. The national networks are generally more focused on policy advocacy.
Now you know what you can find through a child care resource and referral network.
With this wealth of information at your fingertips, you should be chomping at the bit to get in touch with a child care resource and referral network in your area. By now, you’ve got a good grip on all the different kinds of assistance one of these organizations can provide, and you’re also aware of the aspects of this field that they don’t touch. We covered all the different information that you can find with these sorts of agencies, and if anything rang true for you, you should definitely reach out.
If you’re looking for a place to start your search for a family resources list, you can always turn to us here at Child Care Aware® of Missouri. We’re a local arm of Child Care Aware of America, one of the most well-recognized child care resource and referral networks in the country. Feel free to check out our website for some extra information, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out here.