Maintaining Strong Relationships: How Laying a Solid Foundation Benefits in Times of Change

It’s all about relationships. 4-C, (Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc.) located in Madison, knows the meaning of this phrase both as it applies to the delivery of services and the sustainability of programming.

For over 20 years, 4-C has coordinated child care options for local Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Treatment programs. These programs provide a critical service for families so that infants, toddlers, preschoolers and at times school-age children are in safe, healthy and quality care while their mothers seek treatment.

However, in 2012, there was a state-level shift in designation. Whereas Dane County had previously contracted with both the treatment programs for their services and 4-C for the coordination of child care, the state would now contract solely with the local AODA treatment programs. So, what would happen to child care services for this population in need?

This is where the relationships came in. By having built a trusting relationship with their previous funder, 4-C was given notice of this change by their county representative, allowing them to proactively reach out to the AODA programs with whom they had been collaborating. “While we were concerned with the possibility of losing a program, having these types of discussions with the other programs involved was easy because we were all facing the same uncertainties. The number one priority became the children and their families,” describes Executive Director, Jody Bartnick. Furthermore, by having previously arranged reliable, quality child care services for ARC, one of the local AODA treatment programs, 4-C was able to demonstrate their value in this partnership, and child care services to be provided by 4-C were woven into ARC’s state contract.

The quality of services provided by 4-C spoke for itself during this transition in funding structure and much of this was due to the diligence in which 4-C approached the program’s design. 4-C recruits early care and education professionals who have experience working with this prioritized population of women and children and are willing and able to meet high standards of accountability. Additionally, 4-C has taken necessary steps to ensure that each professional can qualify to be an independent contractor, which is why licensed and certified family child care providers are focused upon for recruitment.

While these concepts of employment law, recruitment practices, and funding transitions are highly programmatic concepts, they mean a great deal to the families receiving these services: continuity, stability and quality. Because 4-C laid a solid foundation for the program, it was able to be sustained in times of change. “We are proud of this program and the impact that it has on the wellbeing of so many families,” states Jody. For families in the midst of treatment for AODA, consistency is essential and the services that 4-C provides means that families have consistent access to quality care and safe environments while mothers are working hard in their recovery; young children have continuous opportunities to learn and play while their family works through tough matters; and parents have reliable support in learning to build a trusting relationship with another caregiver.

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