Higher Quality Childcare Starts with Listening

The Bold Goals Coalition’s Early Learning Action Network (ELAN) recently hosted listening sessions with childcare providers and families to better understand the current needs and priorities related to early learning in Central Alabama.

ELAN members Beth Johns and Dr. Erica Jewel Littleton, pictured here, facilitated two listening sessions hosted at Childcare Resources, where childcare providers and parents were asked to share their experiences and insights from within the childcare system. Each group was asked a series of questions pertaining to childcare and shared feedback on topics, such as workforce retention, managing federal programs, impacts of COVID on childcare, program quality and how to expand access to childcare.

These events were the first of 13 grassroots listening sessions funded by the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA) as part of a statewide effort to create a Roadmap for Transforming Childcare in Alabama. Scheduled to be released later this year, this insightful guide for state leaders will provide both short and long-term recommendations for childcare policy, funding and advocacy while answering the question, “What would it take for all working families in our state to have access to high-quality, affordable childcare?”

“Like public education, childcare is a public good,” said Allison Muhlendorf, Executive Director of ASRA. “Quality childcare helps prepare students for pre-K and kindergarten, and helps parents go to work knowing their children are safe. A healthy childcare system is also critical for achieving our state’s goal of expanding the Alabama First Class Pre-K to all four-year-olds across diverse settings. Yet, historically, childcare has not been treated like the critical school readiness and workforce infrastructure that it is.”

ELAN and the Bold Goals Coalition were honored to be first in the state to partner with ASRA in conducting grassroots listening sessions and plan to utilize the outcomes to further support all aspects of the childcare system in our region.

The Bold Goals Coalition takes on large, systemic issues by building partnerships that accelerate lasting change.