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What is a Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)?

“CCR&R” stands for “child care resource and referral” and most communities have an agency that provides CCR&R services. In the broadest sense, the field of community-based CCR&R defines its mission as “doing whatever it takes to make child care work for families and communities” from within the community served. The specific services that each CCR&R offers as it pursues this mission are determined by community needs and by the kinds of structures and activities that local leaders and planners envision and develop.

The many different community-based CCR&R activities fall in to one of four central categories.

Supporting Families

The foundation of community-based CCR&R is work with families. CCR&R assists families who combine work and family responsibilities in managing life transitions that include entry into the workforce, return to work, education or training, job changes, shift or schedule changes and family emergencies. As increasing numbers of families combine the roles of working and rearing children, child care becomes an important partner in helping parents mange their responsibilities. Finding, deciding on, and beginning to use child care becomes one of the earliest and least supported challenges for the working parent. To support parents in meeting this challenge, CCR&R has a firm stake in building and maintaining a quality system of options for families in communities.

Compiling, Analyzing, & Sharing Information

To develop and maintain databases of resources for families, community-based CCR&R programs collect and update detailed information on the supply of child care, the availability of subsidies, and other valuable community resources for families. In addition, they document changing family needs in communities. Community planners, policy-makers, the corporate and philanthropic sectors, researchers, and others rely on this information for a variety of policy efforts and initiatives.

Supporting Individuals and Programs that Care for Children

In this work with providers of child care, community-based CCR&R performs a number of functions that strengthen the child care delivery system while making it more responsive to family needs. Community-based CCR&R works to increase the availability, quality, and affordability of child care in the area served, by undertaking such initiatives as documenting service gaps, conducting market surveys, recruiting new child care program operators, providing technical assistance with program start-up, building collaborations with providers and others to create or improve care, linking providers to training, offering training programs, supporting child care professional associations, encouraging accreditation, establishing equipment lending libraries, managing public and private child care subsidy programs, leveraging additional resources to help pay for care, presenting data on the true cost of care, and more.

Building Connections in Communities and States

By collaborating with community partners, employers, local media, and government, community-based CCR&R encourages efforts to improve and shape the services of child care. Its ongoing connections to parents, providers, community agencies, government, and employers have placed community-based CCR&R in a unique position to serve as a catalyst for a more responsive system. With a big-picture perspective and good local information, community-based CCR&R is able to examine systemic problems, identify barriers, offer technical assistance, find new funding opportunities, and bring community partners together to fashion innovative solutions.

Most importantly, community-based CCR&Rs have been effective in promoting and implementing the concept that child care requires the involvement of all sectors and segments in the community.

Source: This description was excerpted and adapted with permission from Making Child Care Work: A Study of Child Care Resource & Referral in the United States, a 1996 publication of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (based in Washington, D.C.). To order a copy, call (202) 393-5501.