Pulling Double Duty as a CCR&R and Shared Service Alliance
In Vol. 3 of Around the Community, we take a closer look at how our partner, Early Childhood Options, is their county's one-stop search for care.
Despite the extremely limited supply of child care in Summit County, Colorado, programs are maximizing enrollment, families can find and enroll in care quickly, and existing programs are strengthening their business operations. These achievements are the result of the County Council’s commitment—through Early Childhood Options (ECO)—to the child care system across the county by functioning as both a CCR&R and Shared Service Alliance, and tirelessly addressing providers’ needs. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the ECO team for the past few months and found their hard work worth sharing with you, in hopes that we can all learn from their experience.
Let me know what you learn from ECO’s efforts or if you’re doing something similar—I’d love to chat!
ECO: Early Childhood Options (ECO) has been the local hub for early childhood services since 1991. Through a unique blend of direct services and planning expertise, ECO works to ensure that all young children in Summit County are valued, healthy, and thriving. As the County Council, we help both families and providers.
For providers, we offer support to strengthen the business operations of programs and improve the quality of care. In addition to coaching support and assistance with quality improvements, ECO functions as a Shared Service Alliance (SSA). As an SSA:
Our staff provide some HR support to a few programs in the county
County-wide implementation of Alliance CORE, Early Learning Ventures’ CCMS platform
LegUp’s Enrollment Success Platform
For families, we assist with the search and referral process to access and afford care. We also review and manage the enrollment for the Summit Pre-K program. We work so closely with providers that we can help families navigate their search for care. But we’ve never been able to offer a one-stop search for care—until now.
ECO: Summit County is a small community with very high demand for care. Families regularly move to the county because of our close proximity to outdoor recreation, without understanding that access to care is extremely limited. We also have a lot of commuters who live outside of the county but work in Summit County, thus needing care here. Demand for care exceeds supply by 1.5x, and that’s assuming that our existing supply is stable. Families join every waitlist possible and cobble together care in hopes of getting a seat a few years from now.
Our team has many anecdotes and some data on the need, but we haven’t been able to communicate with real-time the serious need our community has for new supply. Having programs across the county use LegUp’s Enrollment Success Platform allows us to see aggregate, real-time supply and demand data for us to be better coaches, advocates, and referrals for providers and families.
As the central early learning hub for the county, it was a natural expansion of our organization’s efforts to create the Summit County Child Care Marketplace. The Marketplace enhances the work that we’ve been trying to do, but allows all families to quickly take action. Our team can still help families who call us looking for care. Now we can even take our support a step further by taking action on behalf of families looking for care so that our referrals are more robust.
The Marketplace is a huge asset to providers as well because they can share their availability easily, allowing them to quickly fill a seat as soon as it’s open. Knowing that waitlists are so long across the county, LegUp helps manage and streamline that process. By managing the initial enrollment and interest from prospective families saves providers so much time and ensure that families have a good experience with every provider, which is something they all want but sometimes cannot give to every interested family who calls when they’re also short staffed or managing a million other things. The Summit County Child Care Marketplace enhances our work and supports providers and families simultaneously.
At LegUp, we’re constantly impressed and inspired by the groundbreaking work of our partners like ECO. You can learn more about their work here.