Kindergarten Readiness – Recommendations

KINDERGARTEN READINESS WORK GROUP

As part of its initial charge, the Kindergarten Readiness work group sought to examine the impact early childhood programs have on a student’s readiness for kindergarten. This includes identifying opportunities to increase the number of children served by high-quality early childhood programs in Baltimore City.

Recommendations

The Kindergarten Readiness work group put forth the below set of initial, strategic recommendations to move the needle on our key indicator for this outcome. The group monitored the following progress to date:

RECOMMENDATION 1

Focus on human capital: Explore opportunities to create a system of quality professional development and training, including expanding the number of high-quality professionals available in early education and increasing access to and engagement of informal care providers to improve their quality/encourage them to become licensed.

Progress to Date: The Quality Early Education action team focused on understanding the challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of quality early childhood education program staff, identifying opportunities to align with the state’s Master Plan for Professional Development, and potential mechanisms to improve outreach to informal care providers. As a result of this work:

  • The Greater Baltimore Committee has agreed to add issues regarding early childhood education, including the Adequacy Study, to its “Reconnecting Baltimore” advocacy agenda;
  • The Maryland Family Network will soon launch a pilot, informed by the state’s Professional Development Master Plan, in which a cohort of 20 participants are supported through successful completion of the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential;
  • The Office of Child Care at the Maryland State Department of Education (MDSE) is working on a process for distributing lists of informal providers in each Judy Center’s catchment area to facilitate outreach and begin linking informal providers to available training and technical assistance; and
  • The team is working to support Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) in following MSDE’s recent guidelines around aligning the high school childcare career, technical, education pathway with the CDA.

RECOMMENDATION 2

Explore opportunities to expand the number of seats/slots available across all early childhood programs, including expanding the slots to full-day/full-year opportunities.

Progress to Date: The Early Education Program Quantity action team gathered and analyzed data associated with the enrollment, capacity, and distribution of early childhood education program seats. As a result of this work:

  • The Family League of Baltimore (FLB) is piloting out-of-school time (OST) programming for 40 pre-k students at two BCPS sites in the 2016–17 school year. If this pilot is successful, then the FLB will expand its OST grants to include pre-k seats in the 2017–18 school year.
  • The Head Start Collaborative successfully raised funds for 927 programming seats for Summer 2016 across the four programs, resulting in an increase of 141 seats from Summer 2015.
  • BCPS and the Family Literacy Coalition piloted outreach to families in three targeted neighborhoods with low pre-k enrollment to increase utilization for the 2016–17 school year and identify best practices to improve enrollment.

RECOMMENDATION 3

Focus on coordination: Improve data quality, collection, and sharing to improve service delivery, coordination, and outcomes.

Progress to Date:

  • The Family Literacy Coalition is conducting a pilot to identify best practices associated with transitioning children from early childhood education programs to eight BCPS elementary schools.
  • The Early Education Data Collaborative, under the leadership of Baltimore Education Research Consortium, continues to release reports that describe the experience of Baltimore’s babies as they grow up in the city and enter school.