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Superintendents Toolbox

Early Childhood Programs

We often broadly classify early childhood programs under the heading of “child care”, but that single umbrella term fails to capture the diversity of programs in most communities.  

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Who are they?

There are child care centers, certified child care homes, private preschool programs, and registered providers.  And these various potential partners may have different needs and create different opportunities.  So your first challenge is to get to know who is doing this work in your community.  You can access a list of local providers in your county by clicking here.  Simply enter your county name.
 

What do they do?

Most licensed programs provide full day care in order to serve working families.  Children may spend as many as 9-11 hours in care each day.  That means these programs may provide developmentally appropriate care for children birth to school age (summer and holidays), serve multiple meals, attend to the child’s hygiene, allow time for an afternoon nap, etc.
 
One thing that they all have in common that most school-based programs do not is that they see a family member or two each and every day that the child is in their program.  This ongoing contact with families creates an opportunity for influence and regular communication.  They also typically spend more hours of each day with the children and may be more likely to notice issues.
 
Another is that they all need ongoing professional learning and development.  All teachers and assistants are required to have 15 hours of professional development credit annually.  Childcare teachers and assistants are not required to have a degree or credential, so their level of knowledge and skills can vary widely.

 

How can you partner?

Child care can provide access to families of preschool age children.  They can share materials like the school readiness definition and Brigance information with their parents of preschool age children.  They can provide learning opportunities for families in the evening.  They can send home developmentally appropriate activities related to what the child is learning at “school”.  They can provide parent guides, monthly messages, and other informational supports.  They can support kindergarten information or transition activities.  They can offer assistance when a family seems to be in crisis.
 
Step 1: School districts can partner with others in the community to offer low cost high quality professional development opportunities.  Invite childcare providers to send staff to classes hosted by the preschool.
 
Step 2: They can partner with childcare centers and homes to enroll children in kindergarten, sponsor transition activities, help private and school-based programs learn more about each other, and partner with kindergarten teachers. 
 
Step 3: Schools can share Brigance results with providers to help shape supports for kids in their care tailored to addressing past Brigance results.  Schools can also provide services for special needs 3 and 4 year olds who are in full-time child care.