2021 Family Child Care Innovation Networks Award
A new award designed to spark, accelerate, and sustain community-based peer learning networks across Massachusetts.
What is the Family Child Care Innovation Networks Award?
This new award aims to highlight and strengthen the kinds of professional networks and reflective, collaborative activities that have been proven to enhance educators’ job satisfaction, wellbeing, and the quality of their practice. While in years past the Zaentz Initiative has used the Innovation Challenge to solicit new ideas and fresh thinking from across the country and field, we see an important opportunity to respond to the current moment, and our own research findings, in a meaningful way. This new award will help us support providers who are doing critical and innovative work across our state, at a time when connection and collaboration are more important than ever.
Awards will be given in amounts of up to $5,000. Award funds may be used to cover investments and expenses associated with building and sustaining community-based peer learning networks, including professional learning facilitators, trainers, or speakers; food or child care during network meetings; technology needed for remote meetings and collaboration; or curricular materials to support the work of the community of practice, among other things.
In addition to receiving funding, awardees will be invited to share their innovative practices at a virtual convening in the spring of 2021.
Responding to the rich racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity that is a hallmark of the family child care community, applications will be offered in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Chinese.
Why a focus on family child care?
Family child care providers are an essential part of the early education and care ecosystem, and they have unique strengths that will make them critical to our pandemic response and recovery. These providers serve small, mixed-age groups of children – a configuration that may be especially in demand given public health concerns about large group sizes and a need for more feasible care options that serve siblings within families. Family child care providers also tend to be more affordable, flexible, and likely to be staffed by educators and caregivers who reflect the racial, ethnic, and linguistic composition of the communities they serve than other types of early education and care programs.
But in recent years, family child care providers have struggled to maintain viability. They have also been especially hard hit by the pandemic, threatening their ability to support children and families in the months ahead. In response to a recent survey of early educators and caregivers across Massachusetts, part of the Early Learning Study at Harvard, nearly all (87%) family child care providers reported their income had been affected, which was not the case among those in other provider types, including public preK and Head Start. Unsurprisingly, family child care providers also reported disproportionately high levels of stress and uncertainty about the future of their programs. Additionally, family child care providers often work long hours and balance multiple professional roles and tasks, and they are often professionally isolated compared to peers in center-based and more formal classroom settings.
Why is the Zaentz Initiative offering this award?
The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative seeks to be a leading connector for innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of early education. We recognize that new ideas are needed in our field, and we hope to use this award to highlight creative, effective, and provider-led approaches to peer learning. Reimagining the Innovation Challenge in this way also enables us to further our mission of promoting the knowledge, professional learning, and collective action necessary to cultivate optimal early learning environments and experiences.
Award Timeline + Application
Online application launchedDate: 12/17/20
Optional informational webinarDate: 01/25/21
Online application deadline (11:59PM)Date: 02/19/21
Awardees announcedDate: 04/19/21
Virtual Event to Highlight Awardees (Spring 2021)
Members of the Zaentz Initiative award committee will review applications for their quality, feasibility, and potential to promote reflective, collaborative practices across the peer learning network. To avoid any conflicts of interest, the faculty directors of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative, Professors Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones, will not participate in final award decisions.
Funding recipients will be announced in spring 2021.
The Award is intended to support provider-run communities of practice; support networks run by a larger organization (not a family child care provider or group of providers), either for profit or not for profit, are not eligible to apply.
Las aplicaciones están disponibles en varios idiomas, entre ellos el español.
Aplikasyon yo disponib nan plizyè lang, ki gen ladann tou pa egzanp kreyòl ayisyen.
If you need access to the application in a language that is not listed above, please reach out to Zaentz@gse.harvard.edu.
2019 Winners & Finalists
Idea Track Winners
Participants: Jasmine Spencer, Ashanti Jones, Fady Ibrahim
Participant: Patricia Hoge
Participants: Susie Riddick, Tonja Holder
Participants: Maureen Weber, Brittany Krier
Pilot Track Winners
Participant: Sheetal Singh
Participants: Abby Crawford, Crystal Cauley
Participants: Stephanie Bradley, Tori Gilbert
Scaling Track Winners
Participants: Vidya Sundaram, Elisabeth O’Bryon
Participants: Judy Williams, Michael Taylor
Participants: Micca Knox, Katerina Sergi
Idea Track Finalists
Participants: Maureen Weber, Brittany Krier
Participant: Lauren Berman
Pilot Track Finalists
Participant: Susan MacDonald
Participants: DeLonn Crosby, Scott Schanke
Scaling Track Finalists
Participant: Mona Malan
Participants: Ruth Schmidt, Katherine Magnuson
Scaling track, 3rd Place
Leveraging Text Messages to Support Early Childhood Development and Parental Resilience
Scaling track, 2nd Place
Leading Men Fellowship Program
Scaling track, 1st Place
The Beautiful Stuff Project
Pilot track, 3rd Place
Louisiana Early Childhood Leaders Fellowship
Pilot track, 2nd Place
Bienvenida a ESCALERAS
Pilot track, 1st Place
Building Single Points of Entry that Serve Families and Communities
Idea track, 3rd Place
Pin Your Park: An Offtrail Lesson Planning Guide for Educators
Idea track, 2nd Place
Seeds of Learning: The New Britain Infant/Toddler Early Childhood Business Incubator
Idea track, 1st Place
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