January 1, 2018 was not only the start of a new calendar year, but the launch of the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children in California!
We welcome this program into our communities with open hearts and enthusiasm as we build new partnerships and strengthen our capacity to support access to quality care for some of our most vulnerable children in California.
As we embark on this journey, the CA Child Care Resource & Referral Network (Network), in partnership with ACESConnection.com, is excited to welcome local child care resource and referral agencies (R&Rs) to our new online community. We hope that this is a space where you can connect, share stories, and grow from one another's strengths and strategies.
What is the Bridge Program?
The "Bridge Program" is a program of the CA Department of Social Services and is composed of three complementary parts:
- Emergency child care vouchers (6-12 months; via APP or CWD)
- Child care navigation (via R&Rs)
- Trauma-informed care training & coaching (via R&Rs)
Together, these components aim to maximize funding to support eligible families, successfully place foster children in home-based child care settings, and boost child care providers’ capacity to meet the needs of foster children by implementing trauma-informed caregiving practices. With our strengths and relationships, R&Rs are in a unique position to provide the services above in a streamlined way. Alternative payment programs can help ensure that eligible families are able to access financial support, while R&R staff are able to provide more individualized support for resource families, such as informing them of their child care options and rights and providing thoughtful and supportive navigation of what can sometimes feel like a daunting system. R&R Trainers and Coaches will be able to build upon their provider services and professional development options, to provide trauma-informed care training and coaching opportunities for the full continuum of home-based child care providers (FFN and FCCH). As well as facilitating this online community, the Network will provide training and support to local R&Rs in coordinating and providing trauma-informed training and coaching opportunities to home-based child care providers.
What are R&Rs already doing?
As the program unfolds, it’s exciting to hear of the creative strategies that R&Rs are employing to support families and caregivers. CocoKids, an R&R in Contra Costa County, is already helping resource families secure child care and is designing a home visiting plan to provide coaching and support to license-exempt providers in implementing trauma-informed practices. They’re also thinking of ways to support caregivers as they learn about their own adverse childhood experiences and triggers so that they can be more attuned, present, and responsive caregivers, and have coordinated a conference that lifts the topic of trauma to the forefront of the conversation. Additionally, the CocoKids team is anticipating how to best support reunification, exploring ways to sustain continuity of care whenever possible.
The commitment of resource families, R&Rs, APs, trainers, and coaches is truly inspiring. For the sake of every child, we must strive to make this program successful, efficient, responsive, and respectful, and ensure that every family and caregiver is treated with dignity and feels supported. The wealth of knowledge and experience in this community and the field is humbling, and this is an invaluable opportunity to create new partnerships and open and share our stories so that we may all grow.
Here, in our new community, we'll hold a space to continue these conversations and share our wonders, concerns, and strategies to overcome challenges that will inevitably arise; here, our counties become one state, under one roof; here, we welcome you to rest your shoulders, hang up your coat, take a seat and a sip - let's chat.