Washington Center for Equitable Growth honors Mason education professor for project

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The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is awarding $80,000 to help George Mason University professor Bweikia Foster Steen and fellow researchers study home-based childcare providers in Virginia.

Steen, associate professor of education in the College of Education and Human Development, said the research, “Voices of Home-Based Providers: Perspectives from the Early-Childhood Field,” will focus on interviewing home-based providers in Virginia about the population they serve and the impediments they face.

This research is important because home-based providers play an important role in the early childhood field but are often not part of the conversation about the needs of early childhood providers,” said Steen, whose research typically centers on promoting social, emotional and academic achievement among children of color. “We want to make sure their voices are heard.”

The other two researchers are Corey Shdaimah of the University of Maryland and Elizabeth Palley of Adelphi University.

Julie K. Kidd, director of CEHD’s School of Education and the Division of Child, Family, and Community Engagement, said the award represents quite an honor for Steen and her colleagues.

“This funding will enable Dr. Steen and the other researchers to identify barriers and develop solutions to address the challenges facing home-based care providers,” said Kidd.

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is a nonprofit research and grantmaking organization dedicated to advancing policies and evidence-based ideas that promote strong, stable and broad-based economic growth, according to its website.

Researchers plan to interview 50 home-based childcare providers throughout Virginia about how they can be better supported so they can continue to provide affordable access to childcare, said Steen.

Steen notes there are a variety of reasons that parents and guardians choose home-based care providers over other facilities. Home-based facilities can provide longer or more flexible hours of childcare and can be more affordable. Some parents and guardians prefer the idea of childcare in a homelike atmosphere or are looking for childcare with a lower adult-to-child ratio. Home-based facilities can also provide care not just for babies, toddlers and pre-kindergarten children, but afterschool supervision for older children.

“We’re hoping to add to the body of childcare research demonstrating the value and needs of home-based providers,” said Steen. “It aims to better understand how that community can be supported in meeting societal priorities around increasing affordable access to high-quality early childhood care.”