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The quality of child care can be a critical influence on the well being of infants and toddlers. Extensive research has shown that variations in quality are associated with a broad range of child outcomes across a wide age spectrum. Good quality child care can influence positively the developmental outcomes of infants and toddlers. However, finding and paying for good quality care child care in a safe, healthy environment that meets professional standards for good care and promotes healthy child development can be especially challenging for low-income families with infants and toddlers.
To address the increasing child care needs of low-income families in the wake of welfare reform, federal and state governments have responded in recent years with increased funding for child care and for initiatives to improve quality. Some of these initiatives have been designed specifically to address the unique challenges of infant-toddler care. In addition, policymakers and program operators have begun to collaborate across programs and systems to address the child are and child development needs of young children whose parents are working. At the state and local levels, many efforts are underway to increase collaboration, develop partnerships, and coordinate services. In response to the growing interest in collaboration and partnerships and documented a variety of strategies for developing them. However, these studies have not necessarily focused on the unique challenges faced by partnerships that focus on infant-toddler-care.