The Quality Childcare Mentoring Collaboration

Australia has an ageing population, which is increasing demand for aged care courses Sydney and related services. One of our new focus areas, Education, is divided into two parts: Early Childhood and Youth. Most of the work done in the Early Childhood area is being done by Success By 6, the United Way initiative that for the last two years has brought together more than 70 community groups and leaders to help make sure that by the time they reach six-years-old, every child in Central Texas is “healthy, happy, and smart”-and ready to succeed in school.

Enter the “Quality Childcare Mentoring Collaboration,” a project of Success By 6 and its many partners.

Goal of the Collaboration: Help childcare centers achieve state-approved quality ratings, which ensure that the childcare center is effectively preparing children to succeed in school.

Why is this Work so Important? Because we know that children who attend high quality early childhood programs are more likely to succeed in school and in life. (Consider also that every $1 invested in quality early-childhood care saves society up to $17 in costs down the road.)

Collaborators: United Way Success By 6, WorkSource, Family Connections, Austin Community College, City of Austin, Travis County

As part of the “new” United Way, we have outlined a deliberate and specific process for addressing our community’s needs, including the need for quality childcare centers. Starting at the top and moving clockwise, this process looks like this:

And here’s how the Quality Childcare Mentoring Collaboration fit into this process…

1. Assess Community Needs

We began with the simple question, “How many childcare centers currently meet quality standards?” Unfortunately, we learned that less than 14% of childcare centers in Austin met any quality standards beyond basic licensing requirements-a much lower percentage than for other U.S. cities of comparable size.

We then asked, “Who is providing services to child care centers now? And how might things improve if we came together to tackle the issue?”

2. Research Best Practices

We looked at mentoring models across the U.S., wherein various experts and community organizations help guide childcare centers toward making improvements in their services.. This resulted in a stack of data that shows conclusively which strategies yield the best results.

That data, showing evidence-based best practices and promising practices, was shared with our collaborating partners so that our strategies and practices could follow the lead of those that have been proven to work.

3. Develop Collaborative Strategies

When our partners came to the table, we discovered some duplication of services. Aligned under United Way Success By 6, the partners then worked together to create a new system for serving the childcare centers that eliminated any duplication of services. It was agreed that:

* WorkSource would serve the centers with the most needs, or the furthest to go in the quality rating system.

* Family Connections would work with centers that already meet some quality standards but are looking to improve.

* ACC would work with those centers striving to reach the highest standard of national accreditation.

4. Invest And Take Action United Way Success

By 6 is providing funding to the mentoring collaboration. Success By 6 also met with each City Council member and every Travis County Commissioner to request additional funding from the City and County. The result? The City and County recently approved funding of over $210,000 for this important initiative.

5. Measure Results Last year, fewer than 14% of childcare centers met any quality standards. Today, 19% have achieved quality ratings, and by mid-2008, a full 27% of childcare centers will achieve quality ratings.

In just two years, the number of quality-rated childcare centers will have almost doubled.

We’re proud of these results, but we know we have a long way to go. Through this collaboration and other programs, United Way Success By 6 will continue this work until more than 90% of childcare centers in Central Texas achieve quality ratings, placing us among the leading communities in the country when it comes to serving our youngest children.

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