LENA for Family Child Care
How LENA supports FCCs
How LENA Grow supports FCCs
Now more than ever, family child care fills a critical need in early care and learning. The close, trusted relationships providers are able to build with children and families, smaller child-to-adult ratios, cultural responsiveness, and the flexibility of care are some of the many factors that make family child care a quality environment for children.
“In this climate, all of the things that make family child care so special are particularly important. Families take comfort knowing that their children, from infancy to school age, are together in a small, warm, familial home setting that reflects culture and values that mirror their own. For parents working nontraditional hours — including so many of our healthcare professionals — the flexible scheduling offered by many family child care providers is a lifesaver. And having a family child care option right in the neighborhood where they live or work is especially important for families that don’t have access to reliable transportation.”
A seamless fit into daily care routines
In spite of their critical and growing importance, family child care providers are too often left out of traditional quality improvement initiatives. Professional growth and development for FCC providers must factor their unique needs and honor the incredible work they are already doing. LENA Grow is strengths based and job embedded, with coaching focused on boosting positive interactions within existing daily care routines without adding more to a provider’s plate. As one of our blog posts puts it, "All it required was the exact same attention I was already devoting to the children in my care."
“It became clear that the fit of LENA Grow was perfect for us. Our values encourage us first to value infant toddler early care educators. This model says ‘you caregivers, what you’re already doing in your day, you’re doing it’ – we just want to put words and numbers around it and give it back to you in a way that’s readable.”
Putting relationships front and center
Responsive relationships are at the heart of high-quality care. FCC providers can use LENA Grow data not only to boost positive interactions with children, but also to engage with families. With LENA Grow, FCC providers receive:
- Individual child data: Particularly with the mixed child age ranges found in FCCs, it’s helpful for caregivers to be able to see objectively how much they are engaging with each child. For example, a back-and-forth interaction with a preschooler may require much less wait time than the same interaction with an infant. LENA Grow data gives providers the tools to reflect on and more deeply individualize their response to each child.
- Peer engagement: Working in a home care setting can be isolating. Implementing LENA Grow with multiple providers as a cohort offers an opportunity to help them engage in the larger FCC community. This may mean offering virtual group coaching sessions, or bringing providers together for the Orientation session at the beginning of the program and the Celebration session at the end.
- Flexibility: LENA Grow coaching can be delivered virtually or in person, making it easier to schedule sessions at a time that is convenient for the provider. Coaching materials are available in both Spanish and English.
- Professional empowerment: Putting objective data directly in the hands of providers lets them use their data to set their own personal goals, increasing their sense of professional efficacy. It also gives them a tool to use to engage with families, both to point out the brain-building interactions happening with their children throughout the day as well as to highlight how families can support and reinforce those interactions at home.
How do FCC language environments compare?
Inside Early Talk, the latest report from LENA’s research team, shows a wide gap between the number of conversational turns children experience in home settings and center-based child care settings. Interestingly, FCC environments fall in between home and center-based settings. We look forward to gathering more data and reaching more conclusions as we welcome new FCC program partners
“I showed the reports to each individual child’s parents and said, ‘This is what I’m doing in school, and I need you to help me with this, too.’ I talked to them and explained how the data works and how to talk to a child. I explained how you can respond, even if you don’t know what they’re saying.”
- Pamela Robinson, an FCC provider in Georgia
Read more about Ms. Robinson’s experience with LENA Grow.
The state of Colorado has successfully integrated LENA Grow into their state Professional Development Information System (PDIS) for supporting FCC providers, giving credit to coaches and providers for the hours they participate in LENA Grow.
During a recent webinar, we sat down with state and county leads on the project to learn more about their rollout and expansion process.
We explored such topics as:
- How the initiative got funded and how it launched.
- The process of expanding statewide.
- Outcomes of the program so far, including valuable data insights into informal care settings.