FCF Publishes Ecosystem Financing Strategy Guide

What is the Child Care Ecosystem Framework?

First Children’s Finance developed the Child Care Business Ecosystem to help states, tribes, and territories identify the essential elements of a strong, sufficient, and sustainable system of high-quality child care.

Such a system: 1) meets the practical, educational, and cultural needs of local children and families, 2) provides child care owners and staff with a viable business model, career pathways, livable wages and valuation of their skills, and 3) enhances the local economy, community vitality, and civic life.

The Child Care Business Ecosystem serves as both an assessment and a planning tool for states, promoting innovation and flexibility to meet local needs. It was developed by First Children’s Finance through nearly three decades of providing financial and technical assistance to child care businesses of all types and sizes across the country.

Introducing the Ecosystem Financing Strategy Guide

First Children’s Finance is pleased to share the strategy guide with partners in the child care sector. Built on three decades of experience working with child care businesses, communities, and systems, FCF has generated the Ecosystem Financing Strategy Guide as a resource for administrators and our field.

How Can Administrators Use the Ecosystem Financing Strategy Guide?

This resource is for administrators of child care funding in states, tribes, and territories. This Child Care Business Ecosystem can be used in times of instability and crisis to determine the gaps in any child care ecosystem: an administrator can assess the gap in their own Ecosystem, address considerations as they seek to fully implement and finance strategies to stabilize child care businesses, and identify funding sources to pursue, if necessary. This Ecosystem Framework can serve as a resource during any time of upheaval or instability for child care businesses due to financial crisis, public health emergencies, and more.

The Child Care Business Ecosystem serves as both an assessment and a planning tool, promoting innovation and flexibility to meet local needs. The Strategy Guide including the Essential Elements, best practices, and example strategies are intended to encompass the programs and funding streams that (1) state ECE administrators can influence and that (2) make an impact on business creation and sustainability. FCF believes there is no one answer or “magic bullet” to building a sustainable child care business ecosystem, but that addressing each of these 11 elements is a necessary part of crafting the right solutions for your state, tribe, or territory.

The strategies listed in the Ecosystem are simply examples of the type of interventions that can be used to address each best practice. They are not an exhaustive list. Historically, child care business sustainability has been under-researched. This Ecosystem Strategy Guide is part of an ongoing effort to build an evidence-base of the policies and programs that contribute to an adequate supply of quality child care. However, we do not have data on the implementation or impact of every program and policy listed within the framework. The ECE Business Ecosystem Strategy Guide Ecosystem should be considered a library of resources, not a list of endorsed strategies.