Friday, April 10, 2015

Community Collaboration – A New Model to Expand Preschool

This week, we released a new brief on collaborative partnerships for preschool designed to provide high-quality, cost-effective early childhood programming. Such collaborations between school systems, private childcare and Head Start typically combine half-day preschool and wraparound quality child care in a single location. The goal is to provide full-day learning experiences for children – and peace of mind for parents.

The report, entitled “Pre-K Collaboration in Kentucky: Maximizing Resources for Kindergarten Readiness,” provides details about elements of successful collaborations. The programs are maximizing such resources as public preschool and child care funding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture meals program and sometimes philanthropic dollars.

States around the country encourage and require collaborative models because they are good for children and families, maximize local resources and help strengthen the child care provider community. Kentucky has an increasing number of these “new models of preschool” and as preschool eligibility expands we hope to see even more local collaboration.

Collaboration can be tricky and it requires thought and conversation among local leaders to figure out what will work best in a given community. But, the benefits can accrue to all parties, making collaboration a win-win for all – especially children.

Benefits of Collaboration:
  • Children – collaboration increases the continuity, quality of care and instruction for children by providing access to high-quality, day-long and even year-round settings. It also avoids disruptive transitions for children during the day - from home to child care to preschool to child care and back home.
  • Parents – co-locating child care and preschool helps parents avoid the difficulty of arranging child care before or after preschool classes. It eliminates the need to transport kids from one place to another which allows for more quality instruction time. When located at a child care center, parents typically have more interaction with child care staff which can be beneficial for parent-child-caregiver relations and child outcomes.
  • Schools – collaboration saves money by decreasing the need to construct new classrooms (approx. $250,000) or retrofitting space (approx. $80,000) and can also decrease transportation costs with mid-day routes.
  • Child care – collaboration can be important for the sustainability of child care in a community. As preschool eligibility expands, children may leave child care to attend preschool instead. This can create a financial problem for child care centers as caring for 4-year olds helps defray the higher costs of caring for infants and toddlers. Over time, expansion of preschool could cause child care centers to cut back or close leaving parents with fewer or no child care options.
We hope the new brief will be a good resource for local leaders to begin to think about the role of collaboration in their community and how they might begin to develop collaborative models that support our youngsters’ early learning and development.

--Posted by Brigitte Blom Ramsey

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!