Collaboration for early childhood success focus of special Prichard report

Collaborative partnerships designed to provide high-quality, cost-effective services for Kentucky’s youngest learners and their families are featured in a special report released today (April 9, 2015) by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Pre-K Collaboration in Kentucky: Maximizing Resources for Kindergarten Readiness” provides details about elements of successful collaborations across the state involving state-funded preschool, Head Start and child care programs. 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 to provide a variety of services for children and families.

The report is designed to provide information for school leaders, early care and education professionals and advocates on possible avenues for providing high-quality services while dealing with the realities of limited resources.

“Investing in early childhood is one of the most effective things the state can do to close achievement gaps. Collaborating at the local level is the most efficient use of our state resources and provides the best setting for early learning. It’s a win-win,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, associate executive director of the Prichard Committee.

“The greatest takeaway on preschool collaboration is that each community situation is unique,” the report notes. “Services can be delivered in a wide variety of ways,” as illustrated in the program examples highlighted in the report.

“Early childhood is a great place for superintendents to focus on for long-term student success,” said Tom Shelton, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. “Maximizing resources by working in collaboration with the early childhood community in your area can have many benefits.”

Major factors to consider in developing a collaborative program include:

  • Leadership that is committed to and focused on early childhood programming
  • Facilities – whether in a school or a community-based child care program
  • Staff and professional development to ensure that instruction is delivered by qualified teachers with support from classroom assistants
  • An understanding of the different regulatory requirements that partner programs must meet
  • Financing that focuses on maximizing state and federal resources
  • Transportation costs that can be major expenditures, particularly in rural communities
  • Recruiting students by offering services that meet the scheduling needs of working families

Collaborative programs can help build community-wide support for high-quality preschool – a key to improving children’s prospects for success in school.

“We must work together to increase kindergarten readiness in every community,” said Terry Tolan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood. “It has to be a priority for school districts, for parents, and for community partners. Only then will every child have the chance to reach their potential.”

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