Improving Participation in High-Quality Early Care and Education for Young Arkansas Children: Perspectives of Resource Parents and Early Childhood Educators

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Chow, K., Smith, S., Perez, N., Granja, M., Grindal, T., & Conners Edge, N. (2023). Improving participation in high-quality early care and education for young Arkansas children: Perspectives of resource parents and early childhood educators. SRI International.


High-quality early care and education (ECE) provides a developmentally supportive environment for children in foster care that can help address early adversities, but recent studies have shown low levels of ECE participation among these children (Klein et al., 2016; Lee, 2020). To address this important issue, the Arkansas Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is collaborating with SRI International, the National Center for Children in Poverty, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The partnership team is focused on learning about the supply, quality, and stability of ECE settings for children in foster care, as well as the facilitators and barriers to children in foster care accessing high-quality ECE.

This brief presents key findings from focus groups and interviews with resource parents (that is, foster parents), ECE center-based program directors, and ECE home-based providers about their experiences caring for children ages birth through 5 in foster care.

Key findings from this report include the following: 

  • Working parents report that they cannot accept foster child placements if they lack child care and that children benefit from the developmental supports of high-quality ECE. 
  • Resource parents struggle to find child care on their own, with many relying on informal networks of support (e.g., social media, faith-based communities) to find child care.  
  • Even when a child can be enrolled in a quality program, their ECE placement is often disrupted during transitions (e.g., reunification). 
  • Resource parents and ECE providers report challenges related to using and accepting child care vouchers (e.g., delayed voucher payments).  
  • ECE providers recognize that providing care to children in foster care requires deep commitment and specific skills, and they want specialized training and support to do this. 

We provide suggestions for how these findings can inform strategies to increase the participation of children in foster care in high-quality ECE.

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