Learning From Parents and the Agencies who Serve Them

In the summer and fall of 2016 and 2017, Great Expectations embarked on three listening and learning efforts to gain insights from parents, caregivers, and providers in our community.

Forsyth Family Voices trained service providers from across the county to interview over 700 parents and caregivers about what families truly need to help their children succeed.

The Early Childhood Service System Analysis, conducted in partnership with The Forsyth Promise, worked with local agencies to scan and create a comprehensive map of all services that impact early childhood development to understand any gaps or needs for alignment.

The Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care Study (FFN) included surveys and interviews with over 1,200 parents and over 300 caregivers to learn more about informal childcare—care provided by relatives, friends, and neighbors who are not a part of the licensed childcare system. We learned about common childcare arrangements, parent and caregiver perspectives about those arrangements, and ways to best support parents and caregivers involved in FFN care.

All of these efforts emphasized the importance of sharing and being responsive to data.

What We Learned

Together, we collected data about the types of services and supports offered by providers, the types of services and supports parents and caregivers use and want, parent perspectives about early childhood education, and more. A few things we learned are:

  • Parents reported strong confidence in supporting their children’s learning at home, and prioritize being a leader in their child’s success.
  • Approximately two-thirds of children age 0-5 are not enrolled in licensed childcare, and most parents are happy with their FFN care arrangements.
  • Parents report challenges finding childcare arrangements, and barriers include cost, flexibility, and finding a trusted provider.
  • Parents express the need for help finding more time to spend with their children.
  • Family support programs in Forsyth County could operate more efficiently if they had a mechanism to share information about who they are serving and where to refer families in need of supplemental services.
  • Families are struggling economically, and have trouble paying rent and utilities, finding and keeping work, and paying for medical care, medicine, and food.

Where We’re Going

These efforts—and our own dialogues in Forsyth County—have helped us focus the Great Expectations strategy. Learn more by reading our 2018 Funding Announcement.

“To ensure that all children living in Forsyth County enter kindergarten ready to learn, we need to continually listen to parents and promote data sharing between social service agencies. In this way, we’re discovering what’s working, what isn’t, and what we collectively as a community can do to foster the kind of change that’s needed to help children, families, and our entire community prosper,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

We know that listening to and learning from the families we serve is essential to foster equity and truly improve educational outcomes. That’s why we will continue these efforts with more agencies, who are talking to even more parents, throughout the life of Great Expectations.

Download the full Forsyth Family Voices report, Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care Study, and Early Childhood Service System Analysis report for more details.