|This year, Child Care Services Association celebrates 40 years in the early care and education arena. CCSA began in 1974 as two independent organizations: the Durham Day Care Council in Durham County and Day Care Services Association in Orange County. Each organization was created in affiliation with its local United Way as an ongoing vehicle to meet community child care needs. In these early years, both organizations were committed to building the supply of trained child care providers, helping families find quality child care and increasing community awareness of child care issues.|
Meanwhile, Day Care Services Association (DCSA) was focused on linking child care scholarships for low income families to quality indicators and operating a meal delivery service for child care centers and homes. In addition to its direct services, DCSA collaborated with other organizations to conduct the first of many county and statewide early childhood workforce studies. The groundwork DCSA laid provided baseline data for assessing early childhood issues in North Carolina and led to the development of several innovative and effective quality improvement initiatives.
The first of these initiatives was the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Project, a scholarship program for early childhood professionals. The project began in the Triangle area and went statewide in 1993. T.E.A.C.H. licensed its first program outside of North Carolina in 1995, and now supports licenses in 23 other states and the District of Columbia. CCSA also created and maintains the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Technical Assistance Center.
Following the success of T.E.A.C.H., DCSA also created the Child Care WAGE$® Project, which provides salary supplements linked to progress in educational advancement and remaining employed in the child care field. WAGE$® operates statewide in North Carolina with additional programs in Florida, Iowa, Kansas and New Mexico.
The Durham Day Care Council, also working on innovative early care and education initiatives, received national attention in 1997 when it partnered with Duke University to launch the nation’s first interactive child care web site. This unique effort helped Durham families search for care online and served as the model for a national child care referral software program.
During the same time period, Orange County’s resource and referral program merged with Day Care Services Association, allowing the growing non-profit organization to offer a full range of advocacy, referral and professional development services.
In 1999, after much success on parallel tracks, but recognizing the need for coordinated and consolidated efforts, the two organizations, the Durham Day Care Council and Day Care Services Association joined forces to become Child Care Services Association. The years since merger have shown unprecedented growth and improved service delivery.
In 2004, CCSA became the administrator for the statewide Infant-Toddler Enhancement Project. CCSA also conducted a comprehensive, qualitative examination of the early care and education system in North Carolina, a study of the supply and demand for infant-toddler care, and a statewide study of child maltreatment in child care facilities.
In 2007, CCSA opened the Jim & Carolyn Hunt Child Care Resource Center in Durham. The 27,000 square foot facility is home to CCSA’s Child Care Resource and Referral division, Durham’s Partnership for Children (Smart Start and NCPre-K), and Durham Social Services Child Care, which provides child care subsidies to low-income working families. By co-locating the three agencies, families and child care providers now have a one-stop resource center for all of their child care needs. The Center also allowed CCSA to open a new commercial grade kitchen and expand its meal service program and can deliver over 500,000 meals a year.
The organization has built on its foundation of solid research in early care and education as well. CCSA completed a fifth statewide workforce study in 2013, citing improvements in education, compensation and retention.
Fulfilling a commitment to ensure accessible, affordable high quality care for all children and families has been the driving force behind the pursuits of Child Care Services Association for more than three decades – but there is still much work to do. The present situation of child care and the coming future continue to offer new challenges. CCSA will strive to maintain its progress toward creating more opportunities for families and the best possible care for children.