Historically, schools have not played a significant role in raising the quality of early childhood education. The Child Care Action Campaign (CCAC) looked at the possibilities of transformation in early care and education through innovative partnerships between public schools, child care providers, Head Start, community organizations, and local business in low-income communities across the country. Of the nearly 200 programs researched, the report profiles 68 partnerships at the local level that have made sustained changes benefiting children and families.
In reviewing effective partnerships, CCAC made several findings:
- The initial challenge in launching effective partnerships is as much one of changing beliefs and motivation as it is of acquiring or spending more money. Even the poorest communities can make remarkable changes for children and families.
- School superintendents have been prime initiators in launching and sustaining 80 percent of the partnerships. When the impetus for these partnerships comes from within the school system, the changes of success and sustainability are greater.
- Partnerships between schools and early childhood education programs are an effective way to provide more children with access to the good quality child care and early education experiences they need to enter school ready to learn. By coordinating financial and human resources, a system can be created that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Based on the effectiveness of these partnerships, CCAC makes the following recommendations for more systemic approaches to improving the quality of early childhood programs and children's school readiness and success:
- All children should have access to the benefits of good quality child care and early education, especially in lower income communities.
- States committed to improving school readiness and educational outcomes should invest in bettering the quality of early education.
- Superintendents in all the nation's school districts need to see collaborative early childhood efforts as a vehicle for education reform as well as a foundation for universal prekindergarten.
- Not only should children be ready for school, but schools must be ready for children.
- Community-based early childhood organizations should be encouraged by our findings and approach schools with specific proposals for partnering.
- All early childhood partnerships must take into account the needs of working parents.