Neighborhood Villages is thinking innovatively about the future of child care in the United States.
At Neighborhood Villages, we are seeking to test a new model of affordable, high quality child care that begins at birth; one that is highly integrated with health care delivery and designed to serve the whole child and family. Our model seeks to prove that a whole-family approach to investing in children during their most formative years will result in improved health, education, and workforce development outcomes - not just for children, but for their caregivers as well. We are interested in testing whether greater integration between child care and health care delivery can drive both short- and long-term health care and other public-sector savings – savings that then are reinvested into child care delivery to offset costs and thereby allow for improved quality and affordability.
Why should we be thinking differently about child care delivery?
The child care market is broken. Providing high quality child care programming is expensive – more expensive than the average family in the United States can afford. Despite knowing that investing in early childhood education is the smartest use of private and public dollars that we can make, our country does little to help offset the cost of child care for most families in the United States. As a result, when it comes to early education, too many caregivers are forced to choose between quality and affordability.
At Neighborhood Villages, we believe that affordability should not require making concessions about quality. We’re interested in testing a child care delivery model that offers highest quality care at affordable rates to families. Neighborhood Villages is not simply another child care provider: we are seeking to evaluate a new approach to investing in child care that would use health care and other public-sector savings to help offset the cost of child care delivery. Should we be successful, our intent is to scale our model in Boston and then to pilot it in other United States cities.
What is innovative about the Neighborhood Villages model?
Our goal is to establish affordable, high-quality child care centers – Neighborhood Village Schools – that have a highly integrated relationship with health care providers and community-based organizations and programs. This level of integration will allow our schools to take a whole-family approach to child care delivery and to support health care sector initiatives aimed at delivering better coordinated, more patient- and family-centered care in the right place at the right time.
Neighborhood Village Schools:
- Will provide highest quality care and education. Neighborhood Villages Schools will recruit and retain high quality teachers, pay our teaching staff fair wages, and invest in teachers’ professional development.
- Will ensure affordability through utilization of a sliding scale tuition model.
- Will offer year-round, extended hours of operation, to better reflect the lived reality of enrolled families.
- Will, through partnership with health care providers, offer families of enrolled children access to coordinated, proximate wraparound services, such as primary and behavioral health care and parent support and empowerment programming.
Why should we be investing in making quality child care more affordable?
Ninety-five percent of brain development takes place before a child’s fifth birthday. During this critical window, access to a nurturing, language-rich setting can determine how healthy and successful a child will be throughout her or his entire life. In the first years of life, meaningful interaction with caregivers and quality of environment literally shape the architecture of a child’s brain – building the foundation for language, social skills, cognitive function, and the ability to regulate emotions. Quality birth-to-five programs demonstrate lasting gains in cognition and skills that drive kindergarten readiness, education success, and improved health, social, and economic outcomes; there is no fadeout.
Moreover, investment in high quality birth-to-five programs offers returns not only for children, but for their parents and caregivers as well. Studies show that access to quality, affordable childcare improves the health and economic prospects of caregivers, especially mothers – allowing them to enter or remain in the workforce, advance their careers, and maximize their earning potential.
Unfortunately, quality, affordable child care in America is in short supply and all but the most fortunate families are left on their own to navigate long waitlists, sky-high tuition, and inconsistent quality of care and instruction. Neighborhood Villages aims to change this by piloting a new approach to investing in early childhood education that begins at birth.
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