Are you a working parent with young children?

Hello, parents. Thank you for visiting the ECE Toolkit!

ECE stands for "Early Care and Education." The ECE Toolkit was created with employers in mind, to help encourage greater awareness of the importance of early education and increase workplace resources and supports for employees with young children.

This Toolkit is a resource for parents, too, providing information on how to find affordable, high-quality child care and how to pay for it. You can also use information in the Toolkit to advocate for ECE in your workplace and your community.

Resources for Working Parents

If you're a working parent with young children who lives or works in Montgomery County, Maryland, the parent-resource pages in this Toolkit provide answers, guidance, and links to resources that can provide additional assistance.

We invite you to explore the following pages:

How to Find High Quality Child Care

Programs and Tax Credits to Help Pay for Child Care

More Resources for Parents and Caretakers

With the exception of some resources that are specific to Montgomery County, most of the information on these parent-resource pages also should be helpful for working parents throughout Maryland.

LOCATE: Child Care is a free referral service with detailed information on all regulated child care in Maryland.

Trained referral specialists help parents identify care based on personal preferences including program type, location, and cost.

Referrals are provided for licensed child care centers, registered family child care homes, nursery schools, Head Start programs, and before/after school programs and summer programs.

Call 877-261-0060 to speak with a LOCATE counselor regarding child care needs.

‍Servicio especial en español
Llame a LOCATE: Child Care al 800-999-0120
español@marylandfamilynetwork.org

If you are a parent who is looking for child care in Virginia, Washington, DC, or another state, you can find your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency using Child Care Aware's CCR&R search form.

Make the Case in Your Workplace

Are you trying to advocate for greater awareness and support in your workplace around ECE? The portions of this Toolkit aimed at employers can help.

You know that affordable, high-quality child care is important to you and your family. You know why work-life balance is important to your ability to be a good employee and a good parent. But why should your employer care about child care or work-life balance?

There are good business reasons for employers to invest in an ECE-friendly workplace, including employee recruitment, retention, productivity, engagement, and loyalty. This Toolkit contains information about how employers can benefit from supporting ECE and implementing parent-friendly policies and benefits.

Reviewing the following pages might help you make the case for a stronger focus on ECE where you work, while also helping you think about the issues from an employer's perspective:

The ECE Business Case

Boost Your Competitive Edge

The Toolkit also provides concrete ways for employers to take action. What is possible will vary depending the size of your workplace, the work environment, and job type - but the Toolkit includes ways that every employer, large or small, can do more to support ECE.

The following employer-focused pages provide a range of ideas you might share with your manager or HR department:

5 Ways to Take Action in 5 Minutes

Simple Steps Every Employer Can Take

Employee Benefits for Working Parents

For more on why ECE matters from an employer's perspective, see Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare.

Support ECE in Your Community

Your voice is important. If you would like to advocate for a stronger ECE system, there are many ways to get involved.

As a busy working parent, your time and energy for advocacy may be limited, but there are some simple things you can do to advocate for ECE. To start with, you can share your opinion with your elected representatives. You can vote for candidates who demonstrate that they are focused on ECE and helping working families and then hold them accountable.

Child Care Works makes it easy to learn about proposed federal legislation and voice your support. Visit the Take Action page to get started.

The Maryland Family Network (MFN) works with thousands of families and children across the state and advocates for the needs of young children and their families in Annapolis and Washington, D.C.. You can sign up to receive MFN Early Childhood Policy Alerts so that you will know when your district's legislator is playing a key role in decision making.

If you're looking for suggestions on how you and others can support ECE locally, Montgomery Moving Forward's Action Guide: How Everyone in the Community Can Contribute to Early Care and Education (ECE) can give you some ideas on how to take action, and is also a useful resource to share with friends, colleagues, and community leaders.

ECE issues need passionate parent advocates. If you want to learn more about how to be an effective child care advocate, see MFN's Advocacy Guide.

Another useful resource for parents and others who want to advocate for ECE is The School Readiness Playbook: A Guide for Community Partners. This guide can help you gain a deeper understanding of the importance of early education and offers detailed guidance on how to engage community partners.

The New America Care Report examines the cost, quality, and availability of child care across the United States. This in-depth report is a great resource for educating yourself about our nation's ECE system and how things need to change.

Case Study

Emergency Child Care Fund Addresses a Common Challenge for Parents and Employers

The Emergency Child Care Fund is an employee benefit negotiated by SEIU Local 500 and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) that helps supporting services employees deal with an emergency break in their regular child care arrangements.