The Reimagined + Redesigned Early Childhood Education Playbook

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Tomorrow Builders



a St. Louis community-led response to the First Step to Equity report


Tomorrow Builders

WATCH: Tomorrow Builder Sarae Addison greets parent and educator attendees at an event in October, “Maybe there are hopes and aspirations that you have about the direction of early childhood education, and maybe you’re also a little upset about an experience that you or a child, or simply that the region, is experiencing with early childhood education.” Whatever it is that motivates you to create change—welcome. We’re glad you’re here.

WATCH ONLINE: Students in Treasia Fosters’ classroom learn about wind in a segment by HEC-TV, featuring interviews with the Tomorrow Builders.





My dream is that my granddaughter has the privilege to learn as much as she is capable. I want her and all children, no matter their walk of life, to have the same opportunities to learn. BRENDA STATES


Tomorrow Builders

From the Fellows

Our systems, including early childhood education, are poorly designed. Black folks, Latinx folks, people of color, poor folks have been isolated from the tables where decisions are made, systems are designed, and ideas are transformed into action. This dynamic of who has seats at the table and what decisions are made as a result has harmed too many communities and limits our collective potential to thrive. OUR RESPONSE: Activate changemakers – parents, educators, practitioners – to reimagine and redesign the early childhood education system that impacts them daily.



DEAR READER, We’ve heard from over one thousand St. Louis City and County community members, traveled across the country to study other early childhood education (ECE) systems, spoken to subject matter experts, and perused pages and pages of research. All this led us to the same conclusion:

As Tomorrow Builders, along with a diverse array of stakeholders, solution team members, who’ve designed the action plan mapped out in this playbook, many of us identify as people of color, as ECE educators, ECE parents, activists, and residents of high poverty neighborhoods. You can’t think systematically about change in St. Louis without proximity or The heart of a strong early childhood lived experience, or without having education system is relationships. unflinching conversations about and economic inequity. This Zooming in, it’s the relationships “Nothing less than racial year marked five years since the between families, kids, and ECE the most radical killing of Michael Brown Jr. Eerily, providers and educators. like only yesterday for many imagination will ofitus.feels Zooming out, relationships aren’t Our region has a dangerous just about person-to-person carry us beyond relationship with our youngest connections, but also about the residents. In 2019, we lost 22 children to this place ” various components of ECE that are gun violence by November. The normalcy interrelated and affect each other and of our region’s dangerous relationship the broader community. This is what we with our babies leaves us constantly hungry mean when we refer to ECE as a “system.” All for change and our hearts filled with fury. This fury is these threads — educators, funding, available seats, an urgent, righteous rage and it drives us, drives us to quality, children and their families, etc. — must be build the relationships necessary to catalyze change tightly, intentionally woven into a vibrant tapestry, for our babies. From the Ferguson Uprising then, to the or it will unravel. The thread of academic gains and tragic trauma of too many children dying this summer, kindergarten readiness relies on strong teacher-child to our deep listening, and recent community visioning, relationships. But you only get strong teacher-child we have heard the region crying out for change. When relationships if you have teachers resourced and a young child cries you do not ignore the child. Right equipped to foster a high-quality environment. And now, the region’s cry is not a piteous cry. It is a rallying you only attract and keep high-quality teachers if cry. And it will not be ignored. you can create a pipeline that educates them, values Something as vast, wicked, and pervasive as racial them, and supports them with good pay, benefits, inequity tends to overwhelm communities and leaders. and ongoing professional development. We want all Where do you start? kids to receive high-quality ECE, but if you just open up a bunch of seats without transforming the system The desire to build a better tomorrow for the City of as a whole, you erode the community’s trust in the St. Louis and St. Louis County starts with our babies, system and it begins to unravel again. So, we need to our most vulnerable citizens. We know this is widely think in terms of relationships at the shoe-tying level, and deeply felt. Our movement is growing and, again, hugs-in-the-classroom level, and at the governance it all comes back to relationships. We invite you to join and coordination level. That’s why we’ve worked us, to be in relationship with us. We were just folks, with a diverse array of stakeholders, particularly like you, who care about kids, educators, families, those most impacted by racism and poverty, to think and the future of our community. We were alone and systematically about how we can weave our dreams overwhelmed at first, then we started talking and together with bold, durable, luminous threads. building relationships and the 14 of us linked arms.



Through our deep relationships with one another, we are actively building a better tomorrow. Being in a true relationship means we debate and disagree, it also means we support one another, it means we push one another. Then we talked to more people who felt the same as us, and more and more, until we heard from over one thousand and started reimagining and redesigning a system. This is how movements are born. Now, together, we are pushing the region, including you, to also be in a relationship with us in pursuit of building a system that nurtures our region’s babies. Yes, it’s messy, it’s complicated, it’s complex, but it’s worth it. Our babies deserve that we engage in revolutionary relationships with one another fueled by radical imagination and relentless, strategic action. Together, we can create a future where babies are born free of our region’s historic and traumatic relationship with racism and systemic inequity.

“Nothing less than the most radical imagination will carry us beyond this place, beyond the mere struggle for survival, to that lucid recognition of our possibilities which will keep us impatient, and unresigned to mere survival.” — Adrienne Rich When we choose to pursue a better tomorrow together, we can make these solutions, these possibilities, realities. We can create a St. Louis where our region’s youngest can be in powerful relationships with systems that activate their boundless potential.


tomorrow builder vanessa pimblott & her son



Table of Contents



















Tomorrow Builders


Executive Summary THE BRIEF VERSION Five years ago, Michael Brown was killed prompting our region to reflect on why factors like race and income are such strong predictors of a person’s life outcomes, why our region is so rife with racial inequity. This much-needed period of reflection produced WEPOWER’s partner organization, Forward Through Ferguson, and their namesake report, Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. One of the report’s signature calls to action is supporting and investing in early childhood education (ECE). This call to action is the first step on the path to achieving a racially equitable St. Louis by 2039, a generation after Michael Brown’s killing. To achieve this, we must act now. WEPOWER has engaged over one thousand community members to understand the challenges they face as they seek to receive or provide affordable, highquality ECE. We built the capacity of most-impacted community to identify problems and turn their radical imaginings into actionable, research-informed policy and systems change solutions. This playbook lays out those community-designed solutions and is intended as a blueprint to build a better tomorrow for kids and families across our region. Community members and systems leaders should use it as an organizing, advocacy, and systems change resource.

Here are the community’s findings and recommendations: We found that the ECE system is crippled by fragmentation and call for the creation of an organization that will coordinate the system,


house a centralized data hub and drive quality improvement as well as advocacy and public education efforts. The system is woefully underfunded causing families to carry most of the financial burden. This locks many lower-income families, often people of color, out of the system. A lack of funding also makes it difficult to attract and retain a quality workforce. We must pursue new public and private revenue streams and equitably allocate these resources to those with the highest need. The St. Louis ECE system needs a clear definition of quality and an equitable system to drive quality improvement. One of the most crucial factors in high quality ECE is a strong teacher workforce. We must pay teachers more, create innovative workforce pipelines, and ensure they receive continuing education and professional development. Finally, we found that a strong ECE system yields the highest return on investment the earlier you invest and that supporting the whole child requires a two generation approach. Prenatal care and the whole family’s mental, physical, and financial health all play a vital role in a child’s early life outcomes. A truly high quality ECE system must take a holistic approach. These insights took the form of 17 actionable, community-authored solutions listed on the following page. By fighting for them, we fight for our future.


Our Solutions

QUALITY Q-1 I mplement a local Quality Assurance Report (QAR) system

WORKFORCE W-1 P rovide competitive wages & benefits W-2 I ncrease equitable access to professional credentials W-3 C reate early pipelines to the ECE profession

Q-2 D evelop and implement a universal kindergarten readiness assessment for the region Q-3 I nvest in ongoing professional development

FUNDING & ACCESS FA-1 E stablish local public funding streams dedicated to early childhood education in St. Louis City and County by 2021 FA-2 P ursue private investment FA-3 Better leverage existing funding sources

FAMILY WELL-BEING FW-1 E stablish neighborhood-based twogeneration hubs FW-2 I ncrease access to culturally responsive health care FW-3 A dvance local and state policies that improve financial security FW-4 B uild parent and guardian advocacy skills FW-5 I ncrease funding for home visiting programs

These solutions are driven by community insight and values, evidence-informed and evidence-based research, and promising practices. They focus on improving outcomes for children, specifically ages 0-5.

GOVERNANCE & COORDINATION GC-1 E stablish a nonprofit tasked with quarterbacking the region’s ECE system through the following key functions: Pursue private and public investment, then equitably allocate resources; ensure system-level coordination; drive quality improvement; coordinate and bolster local advocacy efforts and increase public awareness GC-2 E nsure most-affected community members lead system coordination GC-3 F acilitate the creation of a regional centralized data hub 9

Tomorrow Builders

Meet the Fellows The inaugural cohort of Tomorrow Builders Fellows have committed to lead the reimagining and redesigning of the region’s early childhood education system to be equitable and innovative. The group is grounded in lived experiences with the current educational system—as students, teachers, center directors, nonprofit leaders, parents, activists, academics, and elected officials from across the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. LEGEND:




me d vp of the school district of u. city board of edu.; founder & ed of financial friends foundation; ready readers board member; p h .d. student


ba educator at harris stowe’s william l. clay sr. early childhood education center; master of education student


District Leader

ROCHELLE BEA owner & operator of beginning futures learning center


bssw, ms family partnership director at southside early childhood center

Center Director


bs, ma p h .d. student & graduate assistant at st. louis university; multi-state certified early childhood educator


me d dean of school culture at patrick henry downtown academy; educational specialist degree student



msw coordinator of educational equity & diversity for rockwood school district


e d .d. pre-kindergarten teacher at adams elementary; nine network pbs top ten educator; mo regional teacher of the year



owner & director of alexus palace child development center; founder of early childhood directors connection (meeting of the minds); bachelor’s student

human resource specialist at square

JAKE LYONFIELDS health care professional; co-founder of west county community action network (we can)



ms advocacy and operations coordinator & community leader in residence for wepower


msw social & economic development specialist


ba first grade teacher at washington elementary; parent ambassador with nurse-family partnership; mo parent advisory council member


Tomorrow Builders

Solution Teams Through an equity lens, each Solution Team focuses on one of five areas aligned to IFF’s recent needs assessment report, First Step to Equity. Teams determined scope, developed strategy, and are now driving action. The release of this playbook marks the end of their design process. It serves as a blueprint for change as they set out to inspire a strong network of St. Louisans to take action to transform the region’s early childhood education system. LEGEND:



District Leader

Center Director




































































Tomorrow Builders


INITIAL TOMORROW BUILDERS FELLOWS MEETINGS For one weekend each month, the Tomorrow Builders met to dive into current research, study ECE systems changes efforts across the US, and examine the current fabric of the ECE system in the region.

WATCH ONLINE: Sarae Addison describes the three-step process Tomorrow Builders used to engage a system and racial equity lens. playbook-videos

REIMAGINING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION SURVEY Tomorrow Builders asked residents of St. Louis and St. Louis County to share their dreams of change for early childhood education and name the barriers they face in realizing that change. To date, over 1,000 St. Louis residents have shared their dreams with the Tomorrow Builders for a better early childhood education system.


chose low wages as a top-five barrier to their dreams for ECE becoming a reality

RECENT RESEARCH • IFF published The First Step to Equity: Building a Better Future Through Early Childhood Education in St. Louis. This report looked at the current state of the St. Louis ECE system, pinpointing areas of need and the root causes behind those needs, and offered recommendations to move “from assessment to action.”

chose cost and affordability of ECE child care as a top-five barrier

• [UMSL group] worked to fiscally map the current system, illuminating the funding gaps that need to be filled to support the system. • SkipNV, informed by the above reports, developed a comprehensive model evaluating the entire system.




Tomorrow Builders interviewed key people in other childhood education systems and toured a variety of early learning facilities in Tulsa, OK, where there is universal pre-K, and Detroit, MI, to learn from their ECE models. At a conference in Denver, fellows learned about past initiatives to increase funding for early childhood education.


chose educator quality and retention as a top-five barrier



DREAM & DESIGN KICKOFF To build off the 1000 dreams of change, the Tomorrow Builders Fellows hosted the Early Childhood Education Dream + Design Kickoff on July 20th with facilitation support from Forward Through Ferguson. 165 community members, educators, and changemakers from throughout the St. Louis region attended to co-create a shared dream to guide the design and implementation of solutions for our region’s youngest. Gallery walks facilitated a deep dive into policies and research to date, where fellows and attendees developed their shared dream, vision, and values.

WATCH: Jake Lyonfields shares why community outreach is an important pillar in understanding the system as it exists and developing solutions.

SOLUTION TEAM MEETINGS Led by Tomorrow Builders, the Solution Teams expanded the group of community members committed to redesigning the system. They formed five groups, aligned to the IFF needs assessment report, focusing on: Workforce, Quality, Funding and Access, Family Well-Being, and Governance and Coordination. • In July, teams defined their Solution Team’s problem. • In August, teams learned from subject matter experts, refined their problem statements, and ideated small and big solutions. • In September, teams refined the collective vision and values, developed outcomes, and assessed solutions against research and criteria. • In October, teams finalized their solutions following their community feedback event.

DESIGN COUNCIL MEETINGS The Design Council members met once a month after the solution team meetings to review progress, offer supportive advice, and strategize ways to champion the solutions developed by the Solution Teams. Design Council members used data to inform strategy development learning. Members committed to serve as leaders of early childhood education across the region, considering how their organizations or those in their networks can align.


surveys completed by community members


dreams of change shared from across the region

4 Month

outreach timeline between March and July 2019


Tomorrow Builders



The Collaborative partners coordinate efforts in alignment with Solution Teams in order to set the groundwork for implementation.

In December, the playbook was released with vision, values, solutions, outcomes, and a clear action plan to direct a broad coalition implementing the reimagined system.

COMMUNITY FEEDBACK EVENT ON DRAFT SOLUTIONS In October, at PBS Edcamp, over 200 community members made up mostly of early childhood educators and parents signed up to give feedback on the Tomorrow Builders’ drafted solutions. Breakout groups invited small group discussions on the solutions, which attendees then voted on. Solution Teams integrated feedback and finalized their recommendations.


feedback event attendee

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2020 - 2021

COMMUNITY ORGANIZING TRAINING We’ll kick off the year with a community organizing training open to anyone who wants to work towards implementing the goals set forward in this playbook. RSVP at to join us in working to put the playbook solutions into play in St. Louis!


WATCH: Solution team members cheer, “All the power to all the children” to culminate their day soliciting feedback and action planning.


Design Principles Activate and be guided by the power of impacted early childhood education families and educators. Families and educators don’t just “have a seat at the decision making table”—they set the table from the start. Lead with, center, and advance racial equity. Racial equity is achieved when you cannot predict an outcome by race. It is quantifiable and measurable. To disrupt isolated impact, consider the 5 Conditions of Collective Impact:

Common agenda

Shared measurement

Mutually reinforcing activities

Continuous communication

Backbone support

“We are working with urgency, but we understand that this is going to be a long process. That’s why we’re in it for the long haul.”

barbara tate ward & her son

As we do this work, we remember to: Lean into discomfort and embrace ambiguity. Drive towards systemic change, act with urgency but acknowledge this is long-term work. Surface “imperatives” and “strategies.” Imperatives are what we must do to improve the lives of children and the communities in which they live. Strategies are recommended actions to achieve a shared vision. Practice empathy. Maintain the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, understand their lives, and start to co-create solutions from their perspectives.

JUN 2019


Tomorrow Builders

Vision & Values Vision and values of a reimagined early childhood education system across the St. Louis region.

WHERE DID THESE COME FROM? WEPOWER and our Tomorrow Builders Fellows gathered the dreams and perceived barriers from over 1,000 impacted community members in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Then, with Forward Through Ferguson, we held a Dream

and Design Kickoff where nearly 200 community members engaged in a day of dreaming boldly through a powerful community visioning session. These values and vision statements are the results.


We envision a transformed early childhood education system across the St. Louis region where, regardless of race, income, or ZIP code, families can access affordable education and care for children ages 0-5, care they can trust to be joyful and high-quality – a system that will create, for our children and communities, boundless possibilities.





Our early childhood system will take a holistic approach to developmentally appropriate education and care by achieving measurable growth in social-emotional function, cognition, and physical and mental health. We recognize that loving, trustful relationships between families, children, and educators are the core of a strong early learning and care system and the key to high outcomes.


igh quality programs are available and H accessible to all babies, children, and families. To realize a day where all families have access means we must prioritize those who currently lack access—children and families of color, particularly families living below the poverty line and in high-need geographic areas.

Programs and providers recognize that families and children come with varied identities and a wide range of needs—race, zip code, socioeconomic status, neurodiversity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, immigration status, exposure to trauma, and so much more—so they value the lived experiences among a diverse set of families and are responsive to those needs and differences.

CE providers will work in true partnership E with families to support children’s learning and healthy development. We recognize that supporting children also means supporting and partnering with their families.

Community members, especially those mostimpacted—families and providers—maintain an active leadership role in how the system runs and are supported in their powerbuilding and advocacy efforts.


e’re committed to lasting change guided by a W shared, high standard of quality. ECE strategies that demonstrate impact and advance quality will have access to sustainable funding streams and resources.

Caregivers and educators must be well-compensated and have access to developmental opportunities, ongoing support, and a healthy work culture that fosters measurably higher outcomes for children.

We believe sustainable funding is the responsibility of all levels of government—local, state, and federal.

WHAT IS YOUR “WHY?” WATCH: Gloria Nolan shares her “why” on stage at PBS Edcamp. Watch and consider your own “why.” 19


R LUTI With countless hours of community-led research and discussion, each Solution Team developed recommendations on one of five areas aligned to IFF’s recent needs assessment report, First Step to Equity. A deliberate application of a racial equity lens was used in the process, ensuring solutions are impactful for communities of color. The recommendations that follow are meant to serve as a blueprint for change to transform the region’s early childhood education system.

Gov. & Coordination

Governance & Coordination A MEETING OF THE MINDS

“Hey, we can do this together.” Three years ago center director Adrienne Pennington gathered together a small group of early childhood education center directors who met periodically to keep each other updated on state policies—TB shots, background screenings, and the like. “We noticed that this one lady would never say anything,” says Pennington, “so one day we got her by herself and asked her what was going on. She said her center didn’t look like ours. That she didn’t want anyone to judge.” The group went to look at her center and found that it was in disarray, crowded with unneeded items and furniture. “She had everything from 1988 to 2000 and it was all stacked up. And I was like, how do kids work in this space?” But there was no judgement from the group of educators, who knew firsthand the challenges that come with running a center. On the contrary, they banded together to help. “We got a team of people, we cleaned up. We rearranged it. We brought in a whole bunch of providers to come in and make recommendations. It was a total transformation. And then three weeks later, she died.”

Since then, Pennington and her colleagues have collaborated at every opportunity. From small things like pooling funds to buy supplies in bulk to collecting over 200 shoes for a community in need, Pennington’s network proves how a determined, well-coordinated group can make transformative changes in each other’s work and lives. Their job share structure allows educators to get a full eight hours of work by taking shifts at multiple centers. The more experienced directors help newcomers navigate the bureaucracy involved in licensing and safety inspections. Imagine an early childhood education community in St. Louis that scales this level of coordination to the whole region. Imagine what could be possible if we weren’t isolated from one another or figuring it out all on our own. Imagine what could be accomplished!

“Imagine what could be possible.”

The next time they came together was at the funeral, where they’d once again joined forces to serve a meal worthy of their friend. “It was such a traumatic thing for all of us,” says Pennington, “but it was working at that event that made the group stronger, that made us say ‘Hey, we can do this together.’” 22

Our Solutions

CURRENT CHALLENGES The St. Louis region lacks an equitable, transparent early childhood education governing body that coordinates systemic support, accountability, funding, and allocation of resources. CONTINUED CONTEXT Our lack of coordination leaves children ages 0-5 and their families to bear the frustration of navigating an inequitable and complicated early childhood education system. As a result, data is largely decentralized, quality is siloed, access is limited, strategies for improvement are blunted, and our region is missing out on potential funding. The St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council (RECC) started in 2011 and was housed at Vision for Children at Risk (VCR). Its vision was to ensure “all young children in the St. Louis region are healthy and able

to learn and develop essential skills so they succeed in life and our community prospers.” 1 Facilitated by SkipNV, an independent strategy tank, VCR convened 35 stakeholders for a retreat in February 2019 to evaluate the successes of the RECC to date and discuss a new path towards ECE coordination across the region. In July 2019, the RECC disbanded. Going forward, many stakeholders have voiced the need for a reimagined coordinating entity with a new leadership structure, particularly with greater representation from those impacted by the system.2

“To establish a stronger ECE system, we must coordinate our efforts and elevate the voices of ECE stakeholders. To help accomplish this, a regional entity needs to be established to carry out the strategies in this report and to support ongoing initiatives…This entity should be tasked with establishing and leveraging partnerships with key stakeholders in the governmental, philanthropic, private, and non- profit sectors, encouraging them to implement the recommendations and investment strategies...Taking these initiatives a step further, this entity should advocate for the St. Louis ECE system at the state and federal levels, bringing awareness to issues and possible changes to policy.”3 FIRST STEP TO EQUITY, IFF 23

Gov. & Coordination



Many public bodies and nonprofits working together under a unified vision with guiding engagement and support from stakeholders. NORAH RYAN


Our Solutions

OUR SOLUTIONS GC-1: ESTABLISH A NONPROFIT TASKED WITH QUARTERBACKING THE REGION’S ECE SYSTEM THROUGH THE FOLLOWING KEY FUNCTIONS: • Pursue private and • Drive quality public investment, improvement then equitably allocate resources. • Coordinate and bolster local • Ensure systemadvocacy efforts level coordination and increase public awareness Establish a n ew, independent 501(c)3/(c)4 nonprofit in early 2020 (the “Coordinating Nonprofit”), tasked with quarterbacking a regional ECE system. This should be a community-led organization that sets a strategic agenda to both strengthen and grow the current ECE system, as well as magnify the importance of ECE by increasing public awareness. It should be charged with system design and implementation, as well as advocacy. While this organization should primarily be focused on work in the St. Louis region, it should simultaneously aim to align local efforts with state and federal policy and program implementation to maximize funding and opportunities for St. Louis children and families.

GC-1.1 Pursue Private And Public

Investment, Then Equitably Allocate Resources To strengthen the current system, the organization should work to braid both public and private investments. This will be accomplished by: • Leveraging existing funding of the ECE system that is currently not being utilized or is being underutilized. • Pursuing funding at the local, state, and federal level to bring new dollars into the region.

GOVERNANCE & COORDINATION GC-1 E stablish a nonprofit tasked with quarterbacking the region’s ECE system through the following key functions: Pursue private and public investment, then equitably allocate resources; ensure system-level coordination; drive quality improvement; coordinate and bolster local advocacy efforts and increase public awareness GC-2 E nsure most-affected community members lead system coordination GC-3 F acilitate the creation of a regional centralized data hub

GC-1.2 Ensure System-Level

Coordination The nonprofit should build system-level coordination by fostering cooperation and alignment among stakeholders from a variety of sectors to promote coherence and efficiencies.

GC-1.3 Drive Quality Improvement This coordinating nonprofit should drive quality improvement of the region’s ECE system. As a convener of ECE programs and efforts across St. Louis, this organization will be well-positioned to communicate the developmentally appropriate skills and competencies that ECE programs need to address for children to hit the ground running as they enter kindergarten. As such, this entity should coordinate with K-12 systems and work to develop and implement a universal kindergarten-readiness assessment tool. Aligned with that common definition of kindergarten readiness, the organization will oversee the facilitation of a local Quality Assurance Report (QAR) aligned with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s current pilot program. • A new quality improvement system should both gauge program quality and provide centralized support for programs to grow towards that bar, such as 25

Gov. & Coordination

professional development and instructional coaching. • Alongside a common language and objectives for program improvement, the QAR will provide opportunities to build efficiencies in training and coaching as multiple providers will be able to access the same resources. In conjunction with quality improvement efforts, the nonprofit should oversee the community-driven creation and implementation of a workforce development plan building on the solutions in the Workforce section of this playbook.

funding, quality improvement, expanding access, and public awareness. Cities stretching from coast to coast— including New York City, Cincinnati, Denver, San Antonio, and Portland, OR—and entire states, like Oklahoma, have dedicated public funding and built the infrastructure to boost coherence and increase the number of students who can attend high-quality pre-K. Research indicates that their efforts are paying dividends in terms of enhanced outcomes for a diverse range of students.4

F ounded in 2006, the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) was established as an independent nonprofit to increase access to high-quality pre-K programs for all residents of Denver regardless of their income. Through an annual contract with the City and County of Denver, DPP is charged with utilizing Denver pre-K tax revenue to provide: tuition assistance for four-year-olds to Denver families, public information, program quality improvement resources, research on program effectiveness, and national advocacy efforts. DPP is funded by a city sales tax approved by public referendum. Initially approved at .12 percent in 2006, the sales tax was raised by a vote in 2014 to .15 percent. Following the 2014 increase, the tax is projected to raise $18 - $20 million annually. DPP operates as an independent 501(c)(3) under contract with the City and County of Denver. A 12-person Board of Directors provides oversight with a five-person staff.5

incinnati Preschool Promise is a nonprofit C organization expanding access to high-quality preschools in Cincinnati. In 2016, taxpayers approved a 5-year Cincinnati Public Schools levy, which includes $15 million per year to expand access to high-quality preschool. Members of the 15-person board are nominated by the Cincinnati Preschool Alliance, Cincinnati Public Schools, and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and include parents, educators, preschool providers, business leaders, and community leaders. The nonprofit is supported by a six-person staff.

F irst Steps for Kent in Kent County, MI, operates as an independent non-profit under contract with the county to administer $5.7 million annually generated through a property tax increase approved by voters in 2019. The organization operates with seven permanent staff members, two of whom are shared with another organization. It is led by an eighteenperson governance commission with two co-chairs.

GC-1.4 Coordinate And Bolster Local

Advocacy Efforts And Increase Public Awareness Additionally, the organization should serve as a sophisticated advocacy organization for the St. Louis region. It should work to activate community leaders and create a strategic alliance to both develop and advocate for policy and funding priorities needed to sustain a strong ECE system. While efforts would be naturally focused on the local level, the organization should also be involved in state and federal work. This organization should spearhead and invest in research, policy development, and systems change efforts led by those impacted by the ECE system and through deep community engagement. The alliance should extend beyond the board room to build a grassroots network of supporters and advocates. The nonprofit should also mount an ongoing public awareness campaign showcasing the importance of high-quality ECE as a crucial, high-return investment for our children and our community. Public awareness efforts should also aim to shift mental models, striving to elevate and professionalize the field and working to earn the trust of families and communities that have historically been wary of putting their children in ECE settings.

case study: ece coordinating organizations A growing number of municipalities across the country have launched initiatives to increase ECE access and quality, typically with an umbrella organization that provides infrastructure and resources to manage 26

Our Solutions

GC-2 ENSURE MOST-AFFECTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS LEAD SYSTEM COORDINATION This newly established nonprofit should be supported by a diverse coalition of stakeholders and structured so most-affected community members have input and hold decision-making power. Leadership should guide the nonprofit with a strong racial and socioeconomic equity lens. Its board of directors should have varied skill sets, including but not limited to: fundraising, legal, accounting, marketing/public relations, and ECE. Most-impacted community members should hold majority seats on the board and be provided with capacity-building resources as needed.

This community-led board should establish a vision and set the strategic agenda for the organization. The organization should work to balance a regional approach with the realities and inequities at the neighborhood level and create respective strategies to address differing needs by geographic area. IFF’s First Step to Equity report provides a road map for a differentiated approach based on the service gaps of various neighborhoods in the region.6

case study: hope starts here Hope Starts Here is “Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership that has engaged families, businesses, child education and health experts, and the larger community in creating a vision to ensure that children are born healthy, prepared for kindergarten, and on track for success by third grade and beyond.” Hope Starts Here has engaged more than 18,000 community members in formulating solutions to achieve its strategic vision. The organization is led by a Stewardship Board, which includes parents,

ECE educators, health care providers, and leaders in government, business, and philanthropy. However, the work is guided by the involvement of 240 community members that comprise Strategy Teams.7 Hope Starts Here involves significant investment in and partnership with organizations like Detroit Parent Network to activate parent advocacy.


Gov. & Coordination

GC-3: FACILITATE THE CREATION OF A REGIONAL CENTRALIZED DATA HUB The St. Louis region currently lacks a centralized data hub. Building a comprehensive regional data system to track outcomes demands greater accountability, which is critical to transform the ECE system.

GC-3.1 Partner on Development The coordinating nonprofit should work to identify and establish a partnership with local institutions of higher education to spearhead the development and management of a centralized hub. Transparency paired with continuous learning and improvement is key.

GC-3.2 Data Collection Data should be organized and shared in an approachable format that is accessible online. Collection should include: • Key program quality indicators associated with best practices and aligned with a local QAR for all participating ECE programs in the region. • Workforce data to effectively diagnosis challenges and track progress towards meeting goals outlined in a regional workforce development plan.

color.8 As of 2018, just 22 states link child-level data across early childhood education programs to get a comprehensive view of the provider landscape. Of those 22, 11 link to social service data, and only eight incorporate health data as well.9

case study: wisconsin The State of Wisconsin is on the leading edge of data integration. The state’s Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) was established in 2017 as a voluntary collaboration between Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). It was launched with the help of a federal grant that has since expired. Currently the data is only accessible to employees of the cooperative agencies.10 ECIDS is used to inform policy, evaluate early childhood initiatives, and conduct research. It is not yet used to share information with parents, however. 11 ECIDS integrates the following data types:

When possible, data should be disaggregated by race and socioeconomic status to account for outcome shifts that address stakeholders and communities experiencing the greatest disparity.

case study: integrated data system While recognition of the importance of integrated early childhood data systems is growing, fewer than half of all states have integrated data systems that can be used to inform policy, conduct research, and monitor childhood outcomes and equitable access to high-quality ECE programs. A 2019 report from The Education Trust indicates that access to ECE data enables parent choice and increased utilization of high-quality state-funded pre-K among families of 28

Quality Rating and Improvement System, or QRIS (including all licensed programs as well as statesubsidized programs) • Licensure status • Structural standards (i.e. student/teacher ratios)

• • •

Early intervention services Home visiting programs Workforce • Demographics • Education level • Professional development

• •

• Working conditions • Quality measures

Health care Social services12

• Participation in state workforce initiatives

Our Solutions

case study: tulsa Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST) is a collaboration spearheaded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) designed to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Launched in 2017, BEST works to:

• • •

Increase families’ access to quality programs that provide prenatal, early childhood, and education services. Help families find the services they need. Improve conditions for success by strengthening providers, increasing public awareness, building an integrated data ecosystem, and creating a shared leadership structure.

An integrated data system is a key component of the third strand of BEST’s strategy. GKFF, in partnership with My Health and Asemio, is building the Community Holistic Linked Data System (CHILD). Ultimately, the system will track services rendered across multiple providers. Early work has included developing a governance committee to oversee the development and implementation of the system, initial work on the technical architecture, a framework for managing client consent, establishing data-sharing agreements among partners, and articulating future goals for CHILD.13


First Step to Equity Transitional Collaborative


• •

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity WEPOWER’s Tomorrow Builders Fellowship


• •

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity

• •

UMSL Community Innovation and Action Center

Washington University Brown School of Social Work Evaluation Center Saint Louis University’s Prime Center

OUTCOMES & INDICATORS allocation of funds is transparent and equitable • Annual reports on who, how, how much, outcomes, and how this matches community priorities

• Centralized database that is accessible to all • Set of metrics to ensure equity and show gaps closing

the processes & supports are relevant and responsive • Involved/impacted communities take part in every component

Solution Team member Olivia Mendez-Alm and her daughter Sammy


Funding & Access

Funding & Access PRICED OUT OF PRESCHOOL “Any updates on the scholarship?” Reads an email addressed to Urban Sprouts director Ellicia Lanier, “My car needs a lot of work and I need some kind of financial release.” It’s from a mother of two, a nanny by trade, whose husband had, until recently, a wellpaying job. They’d just bought and moved into a new house before learning his position had been dissolved. Now the family can’t afford tuition for their youngest. “We’re all she knows,” says Lanier. “We had the brother here zero through kindergarten, and we’ve had the four-year-old since she was born too. She’s a bright kid, cheerful and excited to be at school. She just got glasses due to a vision screening.” Lanier’s center is a first line of responsive caregiving for their 124 children. Urban Sprouts has all the essentials of a quality ECE facility: regular teeth cleanings, doctor visits, a nurturing learning environment attended by 37 educators and staff. It’s a safe place that the child loves, where she has friends and knows all her teacher’s names. And if Lanier and her staff can’t find the money to pay for her spot, she’ll have to leave. “If it was up to us,” says Lanier, “we would give care to everyone. But then the IRS would be knocking on our door. Plus we have to pay overhead and here we are choosing between matters of the heart and a responsibility to our organization.” The best they can do right now is to fight for every individual child however they can. They’ve given the family a grace period to try to get things in order while they scrape together funds for a scholarship. Even with philanthropic dollars and the occasional state subsidy, Urban Sprouts can barely cover costs, let alone provide their services for free. Grants are scarce. At the moment they can manage 20 scholarships a year, but even those only cover half of what is needed for each child. 30

This is just one of a thousand stories Lanier has to tell. “These are daily decisions,” she says. “Daily. No parent can go to work not knowing their child is in a safe space. They don’t want to have to risk or compromise that safety. How can we argue with that? How can we just let that go? The way things are, we’re leaving so many children behind.” And they’re not slipping through the cracks. They’re being priced out. Lanier mentions another family, almost in passing: “Mother of two who’s getting subsidies for child care. She gets a raise for fifty cents more per hour and now she doesn’t get the subsidies anymore because she doesn’t meet the requirements. That child is no longer in our care.” She goes on: a mother of seven that goes deaf, a family that loses their home. “It’s absurd,” Lanier says. “Why does a child lose their education because something happened to their parents? Education should be a right, not a luck of the draw.”

WATCH: Krysta Grangeno shares her experience trying to find affordable quality early childhood education for her two children. “Do I pay for child care or do I buy food for my family this week? These are tough realities that families face every day.”

Our Solutions

CHALLENGES • The ECE system lacks shared clarity on the costs of highquality child care per year. •

There is no regional and state model to support sustainable funding­—public and private combined—that can provide equitable distribution of resources to ensure high-quality, affordable seats for all children ages 0-5.

CONTINUED CONTEXT The St. Louis ECE ecosystem is a complex web of provider types, licensure and accreditation status, and funding streams. There are 89,132 children ages 0-5 in the City of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, yet licensed child care facilities only have the capacity to serve 47,219 children.14 Service gaps are most pronounced for families facing the challenges of poverty.15 Even if families are able to find a program for their child, access to high-quality education and care, particularly for low-income families, is scarce. Currently, accreditation by the state’s Missouri Accreditation program or a national professional organization, like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is the best proxy for program quality. Just 19 percent of St. Louis children eligible for subsidies have a seat in a program that meets accreditation quality requirements beyond the basics of licensure.16

Many programs serving low-income families find the costs of addressing the factors measured by accreditation to be prohibitive, because the state and federal subsidies available do not cover the full cost of high-quality care. Missouri has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country, meaning ECE programs and parents are left to bear the brunt of ECE costs.17 Operating independently, providers scraping by on existing funding find it challenging to provide additional training and coaching to their teachers, to connect their families with a broader range of health and social services, and to dedicate administrative capacity to pursue alternate public and philanthropic funding streams.

Only 19% of children who are eligible for subsidies have access to a slot at a provider that has met requirements beyond licensing—an indicator of program quality.

89,132 children age 0-5 in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County

47,219 children that child care providers actually have the capacity to serve


Funding & Access



If we improve this now, we have the chance to change the landscape of education for kiddos forever. DR. LAUREN WRIGHT-JONES


Our Solutions

OUR SOLUTIONS FA-1: ESTABLISH LOCAL PUBLIC FUNDING STREAMS DEDICATED TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS AND ST. LOUIS COUNTY BY 2021 In order to transform the ECE system, there must be new public investment to increase access to highquality seats for children ages 0-5.

FA-1.1 Put forth a half-cent sales tax

increase in November 2020 In St. Louis County, the quickest and most viable path to significant funding for our kids is through a ballot initiative for a half cent sales tax increase, establishing approximately $84 million per year. Stakeholders should put this before voters in November 2020.

FA-1.2 Implement a 2% budget set-

aside to establish approximately $22 million in funding annually In St. Louis City, a sales tax is not an option. The quickest and most viable path to significant funding for our kids is through a 2% budget set-aside, establishing approximately $22 million annually. The Board of Alderman should do this by amending the city charter. Stakeholders should organize and advocate for this as a regional effort alongside the aforementioned county efforts. A recent fiscal map conducted by UMSL’s Community Innovation and Action Center analyzed the current public and private investment in the St. Louis ECE system. Total per capita investment - meaning all public program dollars and all private dollars mostly generated through family paid tuition - is $4,124. However, it is widely accepted that the cost of highquality ECE is much higher. The average cost per

FUNDING ACCESS FA-1 E stablish local public funding streams dedicated to early childhood education in St. Louis City and County by 2021 FA-2 P ursue private investment FA-3 B etter leverage existing funding sources

student of high-quality ECE for children ages 0-5 is estimated to be $20,400 annually. 18 In order to close the annual funding gap between what is currently being invested in St. Louis children ages 0-5 and what it would cost to provide truly highquality, universal ECE is $356.7 million for St. Louis City and $961.4 million for St. Louis County, totaling $1.3 billion.19 While generating $1.3 billion of public funding annually is not politically feasible, the St. Louis region can make strides to increase public investment. On average, a half cent sales tax increase would cost a family of four with a total household income of $25,000 about $93.80 a year. If that same family has a child 0-5 who benefits from this program by being in high-quality ECE, their maximum return on investment stands to be $20,353 each year. That one year of high quality ECE stands to yield an impressive $265,200 return for the child, family, and regional economy over that child’s lifetime. A budget set-aside would allocate existing dollars from St. Louis City’s general fund, where there is currently a budget surplus of $23 million, to early childhood education. This would cost city residents nothing and yield the same impressive societal returns. By pursuing a set-aside via charter amendment, advocates would ensure a more sustainable funding stream as legislators would not be able to reallocate those funds without changing the charter again, an action that would require voter approval. With equitable funding allocation, a sales tax and budget set-aside could allow for the provision of free, high-quality ECE for nearly all children ages 0-5 in 33

Funding & Access

the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County that live up to 200% above the federal poverty line that choose to participate (assuming a 60 percent opt-in rate). The following recommendations should be considered regarding implementation of new public investment in the ECE system.

FA-1.3 The foundation of a revitalized

WATCH: Dr. Lauren Wright-Jones, Funding & Access

Early Childhood Education system should be a mixed-delivery system Families in St. Louis seek ECE options for their children in a variety of settings. High-quality ECE can be delivered in centers, family child care homes, or schools. This mixed-delivery approach should be preserved in order to best meet the diverse needs and preferences of families. In most communities across the country, the early childhood education landscape is made up of a mix of center-based, home-based, and public school providers. They utilize a wide range of educational philosophies and pedagogical practices. They also tap varied funding streams—federal funding, state dollars, philanthropic sources, and families out-ofpocket payments. A growing number of states and communities are working to strengthen these mixeddelivery systems that have evolved organically over time by building infrastructure that enables stronger oversight, resource sharing, and increased quality across the system. Coordinated mixed-delivery systems that incorporate a diverse range of providers present a number of benefits:

Unified standards of quality and kindergarten readiness boost quality across all types of providers. That increase in quality can spill over to the care of younger children when pre-K providers also provide care for younger children.

Engaging the full range of providers enables a truly integrated 0-5 continuum of services.

A variety of provider types offers greater choice for families so they can find a school that best aligns with their philosophy and their child’s needs.

ECE programs located near a family’s home or workplace reduces significant transportation barriers that exist for many families. A mixed-


Solution Team member, shares why she’s involved.

delivery system with community-based providers offers increased geographically accessible options.

Community-based providers often have longstanding relationships in their community and deep knowledge of how to effectively serve local families.20

case study: new jersey’s mixed-delivery ece system The State of New Jersey was an early adopter of the mixed-delivery approach. In response to the Abbott v. Burke decision in 1998, the state was required to rapidly provide free pre-K in the state’s lowest performing school districts to address inequitable school funding and the resulting unequal educational opportunity. Because of the short timeline mandated by the decision, the low-performing districts, then known as Abbott districts, contracted with Head Start and community-based providers to establish the number of pre-K seats, extended day care, and wraparound services they would need to offer. The Abbott Preschool Program is now considered an exemplar of subsidized pre-K. The state has continued to grow the program over time, and independent research has demonstrated its benefits to student learning and healthy development at the start of kindergarten and all the way through fifth grade.21

case study: federal efforts towards a mixed-delivery ece system In recent years, new infusions of state and federal dollars have fueled efforts to build strong mixed-

Our Solutions

delivery systems. Under the Obama Administration, Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG) were introduced in 2014 and subsequently awarded to 13 states over four years to expand access to high-quality preschool options to four-year-olds in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty line. These grants were administered by the United States Department of Education and awarded to state education agencies. Four of the original 13 PEG grantee states—Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Montana—focused on building public-private partnerships. Under the Trump Administration, PEG grants were folded into the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2018. The program has continued as the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-F), administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The most recent awards were made in December of 2018 and granted to 46 states and territories (including Missouri) to enhance coordination of mixed-delivery systems to increase kindergarten readiness for children growing up in low-income communities and maximize families’ options.22 Massachusetts has also dedicated state dollars to build partnerships between public and private pre-K providers. Its Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative was launched in 2016 and provides funding to local school districts to plan and build partnerships with local providers that align with the PEG standards.23 Recipient districts have leveraged their funding to offer professional development to partner organizations, pay teachers in community-based organizations on par with public school teachers, and enhance facilities, instructional materials, and operating systems. The Commonwealth of Virginia has also created a grant program to promote coordinated mixed-delivery. Seeing opportunity to leverage local insights and innovations to address gaps in the existing statefunded pre-K program, the Mixed Delivery System Preschool Pilot Program was launched in 2016 with the support of the Governor and Legislature. Administered by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, it has now funded three rounds of grants to school districts, early education providers, and nonprofits that coordinate the use of state pre-K dollars to fund seats in communitybased pre-K providers as well as support for the participating organizations.24 The vast majority of the community-based organizations offer full-day, full-year

services in contrast to most Virginia public school districts, which predominantly offer half-day pre-K during the school year, leaving a care gap for many families with working parents. Evaluation of the program indicates that students in the mixed-delivery classrooms made gains on par with those in Virginia’s public school pre-K classrooms in math, literacy, language, and self-regulation. Their academic outcomes surpassed averages for children their age. Quality ratings for participating community-based programs also increased during the grant period.25

FA-1.4 Funds should be delivered

through a targeted universal approach where families are responsible for paying a portion of tuition based on their income level. New public investment modeling should assume a targeted universal approach guided by a sliding scale parent pay fee structure based on household income and size. Most “universal” ECE programs at the local and state level employ targeted funding based on household income and size. The financial implications of applying a targeted, universal approach warrants close study in early 2020 and should be aligned with assumptions and realities of the amount of revenue generated through a modest sales tax increase in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

WATCH: Jake Lyonfields notes how investing in early childhood education will move the needle on human dignity and ensure St. Louis is economically competitive in the future. 35

Funding & Access

FA-1.5 Funds should be equitably

FA-1.6 Funding should be tied to

distributed via two community-led boards - one for the City of St. Louis and one for St. Louis County


The work of these boards should align allocation with strategic priorities set by the Coordinating Nonprofit community members have called for in the Governance and Coordination section of this playbook (pg 22). These boards should be structured so that most-affected community members hold majority seats and apply a racial and socioeconomic equity lens to their decisionmaking. This ensures that the processes and supports put in place are relevant and responsive to community needs. The allocation of funds must be transparent and equitable by enacting the following measures: • Annual reports on allocations, outcomes, and community priorities.

As outlined above, the Coordinating Nonprofit should lead the adoption and implementation of a local QAR system aligned with current pilot efforts by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Funds distributed via the two communityled early childhood education economic development boards should correspond to a tiered reimbursement model articulated as part of the QAR system. In the St. Louis region, it is critical that a QAR system maintain a particular focus on equity and access for providers from all parts of the mixed-delivery system. It is also critical that funding for quality improvement via professional development and technical support be available in conjunction with a QAR. More details can be found in the Quality and Workforce sections of this playbook (pgs 42 and 50).

• A centralized database that is accessible to all. • Metrics to ensure equity and show gaps closing.

EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION REGIONAL COORDINATING ENTITY Responsible for knowledge and data management, fundraising from public and private sources, advocacy, systems strategy development, and coordination for early childhood innovations in access and quality.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD Responsible for allocating dollars from public funds informed by strategy from the ECE Coordinating Entity.

THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS FUND ADMINISTRATION BOARD Responsible for allocating dollars from public funds informed by strategy from the ECE Coordinating Entity.

BENEFICIARIES Children and families through home-based providers, early childhood centers (licensed and accredited), school districts providing ECE, home visiting and developmental support structures, ECE training systems, and system supports (i.e. data and evaluation, quality improvement)


Our Solutions

FA-2: BETTER LEVERAGE EXISTING FUNDING SOURCES Through better coordination and alignment, St. Louis will be able to better leverage existing funding and improve services for children and families. The aforementioned Coordinating Nonprofit should use fiscal mapping data to maximize dollars currently flowing into the ECE system. By studying and promoting systemic coherence, the quarterback will be able to build efficiencies into current service delivery. Going forward, the work of the Coordinating Nonprofit and its broad array of supporters should be to identify money being left on the table and work with community partners to effectively and efficiently deploy it. Often, programmatic limitations and challenges associated with existing funding streams prevent organizations that might be able to access it from doing so. By exploring collective approaches, the St. Louis community may be able to leverage respective resources to maximize access to existing funding for children and

families. Examples include:

Increasing child care subsidy utilization and access to subsidized slots. Just 45 percent of children ages 0-5 in St. Louis who are eligible have a subsidized seat available to them in their neighborhood.26 Furthermore, administrative barriers often make it difficult for families to determine eligibility and reliably use the child care subsidy given fluctuations in income.

Assisting school districts in maximizing state pre-K funding available. House Bill 1689 was passed during the 2014 legislative session. This legislation marks the first time that state funding is available for pre-K statewide in Missouri. According to statute, as of FY19, school districts will be reimbursed through the state school funding formula for pre-K students up to four percent of their

total free- and reduced-price lunch student population. Despite the availability of this new funding, implementation has been inconsistent across the state. Pre-K contracting legislation passed in July 2019 allows for school districts to contract with communitybased ECE providers that meet quality criteria outlined in regulation. Collaboration can help ensure state pre-K funding is maximized, while simultaneously ensuring the preservation of a mixeddelivery ECE system.

Ensuring Missouri is wellpoised to leverage federal grant opportunities, such as the Preschool Development Grant (PDG).

Increasing Parents as Teacher (PAT) utilization rates for evidence-based home-visiting programs, especially for those families identified as “high risk.”

zooming in: missouri child care subsidy In order to qualify for a child care subsidy, families must have a household income at or below 138% of the federal poverty line (FPL), which is about $32,000 per year for a family of four. The parent or guardian must be working or in school. Too frequently, when a parent or guardian gains employment that bumps the family’s income just above the 138% FPL eligibility guidelines, the family will lose their child care subsidy, making past child care options impossible for the family to afford.

Even if a family does qualify for a child care subsidy, only 45% of children ages 0-5 who are eligible have a subsidized seat available to them in their City of St. Louis or St. Louis County neighborhood. Missouri has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country.27 This makes it difficult for providers to serve families relying exclusively on subsidy and even more difficult to provide quality programming led by highly qualified staff.


Funding & Access

FA-3: CONTINUALLY PURSUE OTHER NEW PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INVESTMENT STRATEGIES The current chaotic state of the region’s ECE system and the lack of a centralized data hub that measures how well the system is working (let alone a system-wide way to define and measure quality) have made St. Louis an unattractive region for private philanthropic contributions directed towards the ECE system. The launch of the Coordinating Nonprofit and development of a regional ECE system with greater accountability that is focused on improvement should help to attract private investment. While new public investment is critical to transforming the ECE system in the St. Louis region, the revenue generated through increased public investment will not be enough to cover the funding gap to provide access to high-quality ECE programs for all children ages 0-5.

FA-3.1 Strategic Public-Private

Partnerships and Investment Strategic public-private partnership and philanthropic investment will be critical to both strengthen and improve the current ECE system, as well as to provide operational support to close the funding gap experienced by ECE providers.

FA-3.2 Improve advocacy at all levels In addition, stakeholders and policymakers should continue to advocate for increased funding at the state and federal level. The quarterback should be charged with improving the effectiveness of advocacy at all levels—local, state, and federal—by spearheading robust efforts supported by a diverse coalition of community members and leaders. The development of annual legislative priorities, in conjunction with advocacy around the state budgeting process, could result in increased public investment through existing programs and budget line items. These might include, but are not limited to:

• • 38

Child care subsidy State pre-K funding

• • •

Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Head Start and Early Head Start Preschool Development Grant (PDG)

case study: denver Founded in 2006, the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) was established as an independent nonprofit to increase access to high-quality pre-K programs for all residents of Denver regardless of their income. Through an annual contract with the City and County of Denver, DPP is to utilize Denver pre-K tax revenue to provide: tuition assistance for four-year-olds to Denver families, public information, program quality improvement resources, research on program effectiveness, and national advocacy efforts.28 DPP is funded by a city sales tax approved by public referendum. Initially approved at .12 percent in 2006, the sales tax was raised by a vote in 2014 to .15 percent. Following the 2014 increase, the tax is projected to raise $18 - $20 million annually. Tuition assistance varies according to family income and the quality rating of the program they choose, but the average tuition support was $617 per month in the 2017-2018 school year. Families can choose from 250 licensed and quality-rated providers affiliated with DPP. Participating programs must be rated using the DPP quality rating system but have access to technical assistance and grant funding for their quality improvement efforts.29 Results indicate that DPP students start kindergarten ready to learn and outperform other students on third and fourth grade assessments.30 The Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver conducted an evaluation study of the Denver Preschool Program in the 2016-2017 school year to gauge the program’s impact. The evaluation compared families and providers who chose to participate in DPP with those that did not. Its results suggest that the program is achieving its aims of increasing access for diverse families and improving program quality.

Our Solutions

Family Access

• •

DPP reached traditionally underserved families

• •

The largest proportion (43 percent) were Hispanic

More than one-third of parents reported that they would not have been able to send their child to their current preschool without the DPP tuition credit

ver half of the families participating in DPP had O annual incomes below $30,000 89 percent of families reported that they were able to access their first choice preschool for their child’s four-year-old year

Quality Improvement

Across DPP preschools, participating programs used an average of five DPP quality improvement resources during the 2016-2017 program year and generally found them to be moderately or very helpful. Programs with lower quality rating took advantage of more DPP quality improvement resources, suggesting they were utilizing the offered resources to enhance quality.31

case study: new jersey New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program was established in 1998 in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s finding in Abbott v. Burke, which mandated that 31 of the state’s most disadvantaged school districts offer free preschool to all three- and four-year-olds as a remedy for inequitable school funding. In 2017, $20 million was added to its budget to expand to another 26 communities. The program was designed to transform the existing early education system and provide access to free, high-quality programs for all children living in the districts served. To this end, state funding—from both the state Department of Education and Department of Human Services—was allocated to school districts that then provide full-day pre-K, extended day, summer care and wraparound services through district classrooms or by contracting with private providers and Head Start centers. Tapping the existing mixed-delivery system allowed for rapid expansion.32

To ensure quality across sites, the state set a common bar for kindergarten readiness as measured by the New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality and the kindergarten New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. Participating programs were also required to maintain a class size of no more than 15, utilize one of five approved developmentally appropriate curricula, and employ a teacher with a four-year degree in early childhood education along with an assistant teacher in every classroom. To help programs and teachers achieve the required qualifications, the state provided scholarships to teachers earning their early childhood degree and created a new pre-K through third grade teaching credential in partnership with institutions of higher education, which developed programs to train the necessary teaching force.33 Research conducted by The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University indicate the Abbott Preschool Program has had a significant positive impact on student’s educational achievement. The Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES), released in 2005, and a follow up study completed in 2013 found that Abbott students made notable gains in language, literacy and mathematics; were held back less often; and utilized special education services less frequently. These differences persisted for students through fifth grade.34 Researchers determined that, on average, students attending an Abbott program for two years made gains equal to up to 40 percent of the gap in achievement between white and minority students.35 In the past several years, the state has been able to significantly increase funding for pre-K and the number of school districts served through the Federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) program and increases in state funding through the Preschool Education Expansion Aid (PEEA) program to expand existing pre-K programs. New Jersey currently offers free pre-K in 35 districts.36 These newer funding streams require recipients to measure quality at the student and teacher level through normed assessments, including: the state’s kindergarten readiness standard, the New Jersey Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA), and its QRIS, known as Grow NJ Kids.37


Funding & Access


• • • •

St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis

Grassroots Organizations


ECE Centers

• • •

School Districts Philanthropic Community

* * * * • •

• •

United Way Of Greater St. Louis

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity School Districts ECE Centers

St. Louis Community Foundation


Youthbridge Community Foundation

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity

Gateway Center For Giving

Regional Business Council Civic Progress

Solution Team member Gloria Nolan and her family

OUTCOMES & INDICATORS we have enough public & private funding to ensure quality slots for 100% of children in our region. •

more robust system to ensure funding to A improve quality

quitable funding from government agencies E for all early learning programs that align with predetermined guidelines

A clear and universal baseline for cost of quality ECE

we have enough public & private funding to ensure equitable access for 100% of the children in our region.


S imple and accessible way to apply for and receive financial assistance

A racial and economic equity funding distribution matrix

uality preschools/centers exist and have openings Q in every neighborhood across the region

Our Solutions

We’re not just a babysitter. We’re teaching them their numbers and letters. We’re doing that at home. BRENDA STATES

WATCH: Michelle Clayton educates children out of her home in Old North St. Louis. Her mother and aunt also each have home-based programs in North City.



Quality POINTING FINGERS In Asia Wallace’s six years as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, she’s seen a marked decline in the academic level of her incoming students. “Fourteen out of my eighteen current students were not prepared for the first grade,” she says. “I spend a lot of time teaching them kindergarten and pre-K level skills, yet I have to grade them at a first grade level. That doesn’t feel good for me, or for them, or for their parents.” Wallace recalls one six-year-old student in particular: “This child hadn’t yet developed the motor skills to write her own name, something she should have learned long before kindergarten. It blew my mind.” But Wallace doesn’t want us to point fingers. “Most parents want to do everything they can for their child.” And this child’s parent was no exception. “If she had only known what the expectations were, if she could have found an affordable place to get a quality education for her child, she would have.” The problem is systemic, Wallace insists. As a parent herself, she was overwhelmed by the prospect of navigating a maze of early learning options without any idea of what to look for. And after she did begin to understand what quality looked

Only 5% of early childhood education centers and homes in St. Louis are accredited


like, she quickly realized that she couldn’t afford it. “As a parent, I want to live in a world where regardless of what I am able to pay, I get the same standard of quality for my child that anyone else would. And as an educator, I want every early childhood education setting to have the training and resources to provide that quality.” Rachel D’Souza-Siebert and her daughter Amelia

Our Solutions


The current system lacks a universal quality rating indication framework to continuously improve and sustain equitable, developmentally appropriate early childhood education programming. CONTINUED CONTEXT The majority of states have a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) framework in place as the primary method of ensuring early childhood education (ECE) quality; Missouri is one of only 12 that does not. Because of the lack of a quality framework in Missouri, there is no systematic or external quality review of early childhood options in the state, other than programs that receive federal funding (e.g., Head Start).38 Further, there is a lack of data on the current level of quality in St. Louis ECE, and many nationwide reports about ECE quality have only minimal data from Missouri overall. In 2016, Missouri passed legislation to develop and pilot an early learning Quality Assurance Report (QAR). The legislation only included support for a limited pilot program and did not include funding to provide quality improvement support, which is critical to its success. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is currently piloting the QAR; a small number of St. Louis area ECE programs are participating in this pilot. The legislation only included support for a limited pilot program and did not include funding to provide quality improvement support, which is critical to its success.

Missouri is one of the only states in the country that has no consistent quality measurement system. Accreditation is one of the only ways to tell if a provider might be considered high quality.





Every child has an amazing education. Not a good one. Not a great one. An amazing education. ASIA WALLACE


Our Solutions


QAR Going forward, the coordinating nonprofit should quarterback the adoption of Missouri’s QAR and work to secure funding to increase the number of pilot sites with the goal of universal participation for the St. Louis region. Aligning with the Missouri QAR will put the region ahead if and when the QAR becomes a statewide tool.

QUALITY Q-1 I mplement a local Quality Assurance Report (QAR) system Q-2 D evelop and implement a universal kindergarten readiness assessment for the region Q-3 I nvest in ongoing professional development

Q-1.2 Proactively communicate quality

ratings to families selecting ECE An essential component of a fully implemented QAR system is communicating quality ratings to families choosing ECE options for their children and providing an easily accessible platform for families to choose a best fit option. Cincinnati, San Antonio, and Seattle all work with their nonprofit ECE organizations to emphasize information for families, providing a centralized place for parents to ask questions and find information about preschools in their area. Making information available in languages other than English is a focus for these cities as well. Given the diversity of languages spoken in the region, St. Louis should adopt this practice. New public investment is necessary to fully implement a QAR system and improve quality at scale in the St. Louis region.

“My dream is that no matter what school I send my kids to they will be prepared for the next educational step.”

WATCH: Elise Hawkins, parent and WEPOWER Power-Builder, shares her dream of change for early childhood education.



case study

case study: illinois

The improvement components of a QRIS framework are proven methods to support and improve quality in preschools. While research has not kept pace with the fast-growing use of QRIS systems by states to strengthen their ECE systems, emerging research does indicate that QRIS participation increases program quality over time. QRIS is also seen as a lever to encourage school choice, as programs will use ratings to attract parents. 39 40 41

Illinois’ QRIS, called ExceleRate Illinois, recognizes early learning providers for their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of their care by awarding Circle of Quality designations:

The Licensed Circle of Quality tells you that the program meets state licensing standards for quality.

The Bronze Circle of Quality recognizes the qualifications of program staff. It tells you that the program has completed ExceleRate Illinois trainings, has met qualifications, and is engaged in continuous quality improvement. Center-based providers at the Bronze Circle of Quality can receive an additional, one-time $500 reimbursement (in addition to the quality bonus) if they served at least 25% Child Care Assistance Program recipients in the past 12 months.

The Silver Circle of Quality recognizes that the program has met quality goals. Silver Circle programs meet or go beyond quality standards in three areas: learning environment and teaching quality; administrative standards; and training and education. Programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement. Center-based and family child care providers at the Silver Circle of Quality can receive a 10% add-on to their regular reimbursement rate.

The Gold Circle of Quality recognizes programs that meet or go beyond the highest quality goals. Gold Circle programs have met the highest quality standards in three areas: learning environment and teaching quality; administrative standards; and training and education. Programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement. Center-based and family child care providers at the Gold Circle of Quality receive a 15% add-on to their regular reimbursement rate.45

case study: oklahoma Oklahoma has the oldest QRIS framework in the country, dating back to 1998, called Reaching for the Stars. The state’s QRIS framework has 100% participation from ECE providers, both at child care centers and in-home programs. Oklahoma provides free preschool for all four-year-olds, while its three-yearolds are served by state-funded preschool programs. On average, OK preschools meet nine of the quality benchmarks set by NIEER, and the state’s QRIS program spends $7,479 annually per student. In Oklahoma, 18 percent of three-year-olds and 86 percent of fouryear-olds are enrolled in a public preschool program.42 Oklahoma created its own scholarship program,43 the Scholars for Excellence in Child Care Initiative, to help early educators meet Reaching for the Stars QRIS criteria.44

tomorrow builder vanessa pimblott & her family


Our Solutions

Q-2: DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A UNIVERSAL, DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENT (KRA) FOR THE REGION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH EARLY CHILDHOOD PRACTITIONERS At the program level, by utilizing a KRA, ECE programs can identify the readiness gaps of children and identify the readiness gaps of children to ensure kindergarten programs are ready to better meet the needs of incoming students. At the regional level, the establishment of a universal, developmentally appropriate KRA will provide data to inform ECE system design and priorities. It is critical that a KRA for the St. Louis region is rooted in developmentally appropriate practice. KRAs measure the skills and competencies deemed necessary for success in kindergarten. They are typically administered by teachers in the classroom early in the kindergarten school year and are mapped to kindergarten curriculum standards. There are a range of KRAs in use but no one universal definition of kindergarten readiness. About half of all 50 states require kindergarten programs to administer a kindergarten readiness assessment,46 and they utilize some 35 different assessments.47 A proliferation of KRAs was spurred by the Federal Race to the Top Early Learning Grant program, which was designed to promote some uniformity.48 Those designed using federal funding were required to measure language and literacy development; early mathematics and science knowledge; approaches toward learning, physical health, motor development, and social and emotional development. Some states have expanded their definition even further to include mental health as well as school and community readiness to support young children and their families.49 Recent research from the University of Missouri indicates that assessing kindergarten readiness can be a powerful predictor of future success. Students behind as they entered kindergarten continued to lag behind their peers 18 months later, suggesting that such tests can be critical indicators of which students need additional support to get back on track before they fall further behind.50 An evaluation of Connecticut’s KRA, the Kindergarten Entrance Inventory (KEI) which measures language acquisition,

literacy, numeracy, physical and motor development, creativity, and social skills, found similar results. Teacher ratings on the KEI predicted state assessment scores in fourth grade.51 Given the predictive power of validated KRAs, they are useful tools for identifying areas of strength and growth for individual students, enabling better coordination of student support resources. Developmental trajectories of individual children naturally vary, so KRAs are not recommended for use as a tool to admit or deny entry to kindergarten. Similarly, they are considered just one piece of evidence in evaluating pre-K program quality when paired with a pre-test at the start of pre-K and, therefore, are not recommended as the sole measure in program accountability efforts. KRAs are, however, considered effective policy tools, informing decision-makers about the effectiveness or lack thereof of the current system.52

spotlight: drdp Developed by the California Department of Education, the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) was adopted by the Missouri Board of Education in June 2013 as the Missouri instrument for early childhood readiness. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education identifies the following benefits of using DRDP:

Alignment to the Missouri Early Learning Goals.

Inclusive of all young children, including children with disabilities or varied abilities and children of various backgrounds and cultures.

Informs, supports, and monitors learning over time for an individual child or groups of children participating in an early learning program.

Uses of a variety of methods to inform the assessment, including observations, interviews, and observations, interviews and a collection of children’s work.53 47



development A transformed ECE system in St. Louis should require, and equitably fund, ongoing professional development and training for teachers and staff, including trainings that advance anti-bias anti-racist (ABAR) practices. Research shows that ECE educator bias can negatively impact the classroom environment and student outcomes through, for example, higher rates of suspension and expulsion for boys, black students, and especially black boys.54

Q-3.2 Tiered reimbursement amounts A fully implemented quality improvement system involves designating a quality rating to each ECE program and assigning a corresponding tiered reimbursement amount. Essentially, programs with higher quality ratings get higher reimbursement rates. Three-quarters of all states’ quality rating and improvement systems involve providing technical support to preschools, particularly those programs serving low-income children and programs scoring


low on an initial quality assessment.55 Many successful programs partner with an affiliated nonprofit organization to provide support in addition to having the QRIS framework at the state level.

Q-3.3 Equitably distributed technical

support for ECE programs In the St. Louis region, it is critical that a quality improvement system maintain a particular focus on equity and access for providers from all parts of the mixed-delivery system. It is also critical that funding for quality improvement via professional development and technical support be available in conjunction with a QAR. Given the lack of financial resources available to ECE programs due to insufficient public investment and a fragmented system, providers must have access to quality improvement resources to actually improve the quality of early education services they are able to offer children in their care. Technical support should be equitably distributed to programs that actively demonstrate a desire to improve quality but may struggle to do so due to lack of financial resources.

Our Solutions


• • • • •

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity Washington University Brown School Of Social Work Evaluation Center UMSL Community Innovation and Action Center Saint Louis University’s Prime Center Missouri Department Of Elementary and Secondary Education


• • • • •

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity Washington University Brown School Of Social Work Evaluation Center UMSL Community Innovation and Action Center Saint Louis University’s Prime Center Missouri Department Of Elementary and Secondary Education


• • •

• • • • • • •

Child Care Aware ECE Centers School Districts United 4 Children LUME Institute DEI Practitioners Workforce Development Programs

OUTCOMES & INDICATORS all ece + child care programs in the st. louis region participate in the qar system. •

An equitable and DAP QAR framework is implemented for all ECE and child care programs in the STL region

An equitable + DAP QAR framework is developed for all ECE + childcare programs in the STL region

Newly Formed Coordinating Entity St. Louis Community College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Practitioners

Children who receive high-quality early education are:

50% 50% 70% less likely to require special education

less likely to become teen parents

less likely to be arrested before age 18

These children are also more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, as well as more likely to earn a higher income and own a home. 49



“Unfortunately, loving the job doesn’t pay the bills.” Cynthia Smith has been an early childhood educator for 13 years now. “A lot of people hear what I do and think I’m a glorified babysitter,” she says, “but I’m not. I’m an educator. I definitely have fun times with my kids, but for the most part we try to hit goals. And goals are different for each child. We just started with a child—he doesn’t talk. He just points and cries. So we’re trying to teach him words to express himself.” Smith also makes sure her students are prepared for kindergarten and grade school, teaching them to write, follow instructions, and work together.

Pennington explains the problem stems from an institutional misconception of what her educators do. Despite increasing requirements and regulations in high-stress environments, an early childhood educator is legally considered a “service provider” and is paid at that already low rate. “I ask them all the time why they stick around when they could find work elsewhere. But they love the job and they love the kids.” Unfortunately, loving the job doesn’t pay the bills and the sector suffers shortages and struggles to retain workers. Center director Rochelle Bea recalls a meeting where she offered her employees a choice between increased pay or improved health benefits. She was gutted to not be able to provide both, especially when several of her best staff have suffered life-threatening illnesses. Bea herself does not take a salary in the summer months in order to retain her educators. “A lot of my staff didn’t intend to be educators. They just needed a job at first. But when you give people work that smiles back, when you help them get better at what they do, get some notches in their belt, they want more.” And, as it is clear to anyone who’s seen them in action, “they deserve more.”

“Bea herself does not take a salary in the summer months in order to retain her educators.”

A large part of what Smith and other educators do is to support children to develop socially and emotionally. She recalls one child who came in every day crying, while insisting he was fine. “I told him, ‘You’re saying you’re okay, but you’re crying. That means you’re not okay.’ And he responded, ‘I’m not okay.’ So I asked, ‘Why are you not okay?’” She stayed with that child through kindergarten, offering emotional support and helping him navigate his feelings. “I love my babies,” says Smith. She’s never thought about doing anything else. “This job is my passion.”

But Smith does wish she was paid more. Her boss, center director Adrienne Pennington agrees but simply can’t afford to. “When you’re an early childhood educator,” says Pennington “you’re an octopus. You’ve got to handle eight things at once and still keep your head on straight. These educators are qualified and dedicated. They pour themselves into their work and then go home to take care of their own children, but a lot of them make 8, 9 dollars an hour without benefits, even when they have degrees and certifications.” 50

And our children deserve more. “Children can feel the temperament of staff, their caregivers, their loved ones.” Bea places her hand on her chest as she describes how a stressed heartbeat is felt by those nearby. “If you’re coming to work knowing that you are meeting your basic needs—no phone calls, no bill collectors, being able to get your tooth pulled when you have a toothache, being able to see the doctor—that eases you mentally, all over, and it changes your temperament so that you are better able to deal with children.”

Our Solutions


Wages and benefits are insufficient to both attract and retain a strong workforce of ECE educators. There is not enough access to professional development and pathways to opportunities that develop the capacity of the workforce to support a high-quality environment. Environments are too stressful and unsupportive for the workforce to thrive.

CONTINUED CONTEXT One of the most critical components of a high-quality early childhood education program is its teachers. Indeed, of the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) 10 Quality Standards Benchmarks,56 four of them are related to teachers:

Lead teachers must have a bachelor’s degree;

Lead teachers must have specialized training in early childhood education/childhood development;

Assistant teachers must have a degree;

Lead and assistant teachers must have a minimum of 15 hours of professional development per year.

However, a program’s ability to meet these standards are deeply connected to issues of teacher preparation and compensation.57 Additionally, difficulties retaining ECE teachers is likely connected to compensation as well as high levels of stress.58

As of 2017, the median wage for child care workers in Missouri was $9.96 per hour, while the median wage for preschool teachers was $12.03 per hour, and $20.69 for center directors. In contrast, the median wage for a kindergarten teacher was $28.66 per hour.59 In 2017, child care workers in all 50 states earned less than twothirds of the median wage for all occupations within their state, which a recent report from the Center for Child Care Employment notes is “a common threshold for classifying work as low wage.” 60 The national average ECE teacher turnover rate is 30%.61 Missouri does not require that ECE educators receive paid family leave or paid sick days. It has not expanded Medicaid eligibility to include ECE workers, nor does it provide a refundable earned income tax credit or refundable child care tax credit, all potential strategies for alleviating financial burden on underpaid ECE educators.62

$10.72 50%+ 30% median hourly wage for a child care worker

of ECE workers participate in public assistance programs of some kind

national average turnover rate for ECE workers 51



Teachers’ salaries will be increased. A teacher shares partial responsibility in the molding of a child’s mind, making teaching a vital role and important career. ASSATA HALL LEONARD


Our Solutions


WORKFORCE W-1 P rovide competitive wages and benefits W-2 I ncrease equitable access to professional credentials

Watch: Rochelle Bea is the director of Beginning Futures center in Walnut Park and one of the Tomorrow Builder Fellows leading the Workforce Solution Team.

W-3 C reate early pipelines to the ECE profession

W-1: PROVIDE COMPETITIVE WAGES & BENEFITS Transforming the St. Louis ECE system will require adequate compensation and development of the ECE workforce. New public investment will allow for competitive wages and benefits, including paid time off and health insurance, professional development opportunities, and planning time for educators. Low wages and lack of access to benefits contribute to lowered physical and mental health and higher rates of stress, food insecurity, worries about housing and postponement of medical treatment, and continuing education for ECE educators. While this alone should be reason for serious concern, it also has significant implications for the quality of care that ECE educators are able to provide their students.

WATCH: Joe Daniels works to grow vocabulary skills with non-verbal children. Her dream of change includes high pay for educators.

there is a strong body of evidence to suggest that this is not only the right thing to do for ECE educators, but also for students, as higher compensation is related to the ability to attract and retain effective educators.63 In a study of effective pre-K programs in Boston, New Jersey, and Maryland, for instance, all lead ECE teachers (who are required to have a bachelor’s degree) are paid on par with K-3 teachers.64

There is broad consensus among experts that raising wages must be a central component in any strategy for improving early childhood education. Additionally, 53


W-2: INCREASE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO PROFESSIONAL CREDENTIALS St. Louis should pilot new programs and expand existing programs designed to increase equitable access to professional credentials for current and future ECE teachers. Research shows that teacher effectiveness is among the most crucial factors impacting the quality of pre-K programs.65 Because there is a strong correlation between teacher effectiveness and early childhood education teachers who have bachelor’s degrees, funders and systems of early childhood education began requiring or setting a benchmark that lead teachers have a bachelor’s degree (e.g., Head Start and the NIEER standards). While there was already a shortage of teachers in the early childhood education space, some research suggests that at least in the Head Start program, requiring a bachelor’s may have exacerbated the teacher shortage.66 In order to ensure that early childhood programs are staffed with professionals with the depth of knowledge and skills needed to support children’s learning and care, policymakers typically look to credentials to signal or boost a teacher’s qualification. While college degrees were typically not required for lead ECE teachers in prior decades, decades, when credentials like the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential were usually

required, early childhood education systems now increasingly require that teachers hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In the face of these challenges, states and local communities have piloted alternative approaches to increasing ECE educator qualifications, including apprenticeships for current workers, wage-supplement programs, scholarships, and tuition assistance programs for students (both new and returning) studying ECE. The development of these models is relatively recent and therefore lacks the comprehensive evidence base to determine how well they are 1) supporting the attraction and retention of teachers, and 2) ultimately improving the quality of early childhood learning and care. Nevertheless, these early models have successfully supported early childhood educators to complete new credential requirements. Given the emergent state of practice in this area, and the risks represented by an unsupported raise in credential requirements, the state of Missouri should consider expanding programs designed to increase access to professional credentials for incumbent and prospective ECE teachers, such as an apprenticeship modeled after St. Louis’ or increasing state and local investment in T.E.A.C.H. early childhood scholarship program, an approach to subsidizing educator tuition that is utilized in 22 states, including Missouri, and the District of Columbia.

Jataun Hampton, WEPOWER PowerBuilder, teachers a student at the early childhood education center in Walnut Park where she works.


Our Solutions

W-3: CREATE EARLY PIPELINES TO THE ECE PROFESSION W-3.1 Pilot early, innovative pipeline

programs The St. Louis region should pilot innovative programs that create early pipelines to the ECE profession (e.g., youth or pre-apprenticeship, dual enrollment for high school students) and expand access to existing early pathways to the ECE profession (e.g., career and technical education with a “learning and earning” model). In order to create more seamless pathways, defray personal costs and time to degree ECE educators, regional school districts should consider expanding career-technical education (CTE) career readiness offerings in regional high schools. CTE and career pathway programs, dual/concurrent programs, and apprenticeship are all models currently used to deliver career-technical education in high schools. Early childhood education is a well-established career and technical education field. The use of youth and pre-apprenticeship (a model of “learning and earning,” where students receive wages for working in their field while receiving course credit towards a credential) is rare in this field. ECE CTE pathways often include a work-based learning component wherein students complete supervised hours in an early childhood classroom (a requirement for students working towards a Child Development Associate [CDA] credential).

Treasia Foster and other Workforce Solution Team members lead a feedback session about their solutions.

W-3.2 Dual enrollment programs Dual enrollment (or concurrent enrollment, middle college or early college), a model that allows students to take college courses during high school, should also be used to support early ECE career pathways, and can be combined with apprenticeship and work-based learning models.




• • • • •

ECE Centers Newly Formed Coordinating Entity Missouri State Legislature St. Louis County Council St. Louis Board of Aldermen


• •

St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment

School Districts STL Youth Jobs Blueprint 4 Summer St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce

OUTCOMES & INDICATORS competitively compensated workforce • •


• •

Wage/salary Benefit Package(s)

Cultural/linguistic identity (equitable) Demographic Distribution

stable workforce • • •

STL Teacher Residency


• • • •

workforce reflects regional diversity

High Retention Rate (Percentage Of Tenure) Prioritized Mental Health + Well-Being Opportunities For Professional Growth and Development

high-quality workforce •

Practice Family Engagement And Relationship Development

Planned And Delivered Developmentally Appropriate Instruction/Practice

Opportunities For Reflection And Coaching

public awareness of quality ece educator impact • •

Investment Of Public/Private Dollars Public and Community Engagement

Family Well-Being

Family Well-Being ABOVE AND BEYOND A large portion of center director Rochelle Bea’s time is spent dealing with crises in her students’ home lives—supporting not just the kids, but their parents as well.

know she needed.” Bea scraped up funds for the car and had the center purchase it as an investment in the family.

“Caring for children is impossible without understanding and supporting their entire context.”

“We were taking two children home when one of our educators noticed that the family’s door was open. The house had been broken into— and this wasn’t the first time. This was the eighth.” Bea and her team sprung into action. They comforted the panicking children and brought them back to the center where they were able to stay overnight. When the mother relocated, Bea personally gave her money for temporary transportation while they helped her navigate a car search. “We sent our mechanic out to look at vehicles for her. We made sure she got a title and signed a contract, and everything she just didn’t


“Children are the least of our worries,” says Bea. “Anytime you have a great curriculum, a good set of educators, and consistency, the children are absolutely the least of our worries. They come in, they’re accustomed to routine, they feel safe, they feel nurtured, they know they’re going to eat, they know they’re going to sleep without any disruptions…” Outside the walls of the center, however, life for the children can be much more unstable, and caring for children is impossible without understanding and supporting their entire context. At the moment, the most dedicated educators have no choice but to take this responsibility on themselves.

Our Solutions

CHALLENGES The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County lack a coordinated, multi-tiered and widely known support system to ensure family well-being across the prenatal to age five education and care system. CONTINUED CONTEXT The home environments of children ages 0-5 have have profound, lasting effects on academic and developmental outcomes.67 Environmental factors in the first three years of life, like chronic poverty, a lack of parent/guardian education, a lack of parenting skills, and maternal depression, contribute to grave short-term deficits in school readiness, mental health issues, poor language and cognitive development.68 69 70 In the long term, effects include lower high school graduation rates, higher teen pregnancy rates, and reduced adult income and employment.71 72 Our takeaway? Child well-being is intrinsically linked to family well-being. Unfortunately, the state of family well-being in our region, for those most-impacted by racism and poverty, is dire. In 2018, the City of St. Louis, Forward Through Ferguson, and United Way collaborated to produce the Equity Indicators Baseline Report using a scoring methodology developed to quantify inequity faced by vulnerable groups (e.g., immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and those most-affected by poverty). Overall, St. Louis scored 45.57 out of 100.

The scores for health and safety (39.75), financial empowerment (40), and child well-being (26), only begin to highlight the need for racial and economic justice in the region.73 In St. Louis, black babies are three times as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday. Black children also experience higher rates of health concerns like asthma and lead poisoning, while their families are twice as likely to be uninsured compared to white residents. In the City of St. Louis, 1 in 3 people live in poverty. The percentage of people below 200 percent of the federal poverty line in St. Louis is 45 percent, compared to the national average of 33 percent.74 Nearly 40 percent of our children live in poverty, putting St. Louis 12th in the rankings for worst child poverty rates among major U.S. cities.75


people below 200% of the poverty line in the City of St. Louis tomorrow builder Rochelle Bea



My dream sounds like laughter, learning, and exploration, feels like warmth, acceptance, and love. Children exude happiness when they are supported, given healthy meals, and listened to. You can see happiness, healthfulness, and learning in the children’s attitudes and actions. The relationship between families and providers would be professional, but friendly, with consistent communication about all aspects of children’s school and home lives. PYPER REYNOLDS

Our Solutions


work to establish neighborhood-based hubs with access to “navigators” who help families access responsive social services and supports, including financial empowerment services. When possible, rather than building new hubs (a costly endeavor), partner with and revitalize existing nonprofits, ECE programs, community schools, and community resource/recreation centers to expand services that foster a 2Gen approach. These are approaches that support the needs of children and the adults who care for them.

FW-1.2 In a neighborhood hub, two-

generation supports could include the following: •

Child focused: providing high-quality ECE programs (hosting Head Start and Early Head Start, child care partnerships, and pre-K programming)

Child focused with parent elements: social capital (establishing peer and family networks, providing child-strategy coaching, cohort strategies)

Parent focused: postsecondary and employment pathways (community college enrollment support, hosting access to online or in-person training and certification, workforce partnerships and job fairs)

Parent focused with child elements: economic assets (asset building training, housing access and public assistance securement supports, aiding and training in financial capacity, transportation vouchers and assistance)

Whole family: health and well-being (supporting overall family mental, physical, and behavioral health; assisting in gaining health coverage and access to care; addressing adverse childhood experiences within the home through targeted social services; addressing toxic stress within the home through targeted counseling services)

FAMILY WELL-BEING FW-1 E stablish neighborhood-based twogeneration hubs FW-2 I ncrease access to culturally responsive health care FW-3 A dvance local and state policies that improve financial security FW-4 B uild parent and guardian advocacy skills FW-5 I ncrease funding for home visiting programs

FW-1.3 Revitalize community resource

centers Neighborhood/community resource centers should be revitalized through the expansion of their purpose beyond recreation, and into full-scale hubs for community support. Although St. Louis has a clear need for more structures, if financial limitations prevent the construction of new buildings, centers can be operated within existing nonprofit structures or community schools. Informed by community knowledge and staffed by members of the community being served, these centers can lower the entry barrier to accessing social services while providing whole family, two-generation approach support to children and their families. Center staff should be well-versed in, and provide expert coordination with, county and city social service providers, as well as federal and state government programs. Importantly, the centers should build effective partnerships and foster welcoming environments that embrace the unique history, diversity, and assets of the community and individuals they serve. Belief in the 2Gen approach is validated by research. Seventy-one percent of the American public believes investing in parents is a necessity in the success of children ages 0-5 from low-socioeconomic status families. Eighty-nine percent said that a two-generation approach is an effective way to break the cycle of poverty, while 84 percent felt that Head Start and Early Head Start should partner with organizations that help parents of lowincome children further their education and receive job training.76 61

Family Well-Being

case study: connecticut Driven by state legislation and developed with family and program input, Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood advances 2Gen solutions. Specific outcomes measured include:

• •

Healthy birth: Avoidance of pre-term birth which presents both immediate long-term risks for children and costs for government; Safe children: Avoidance of emergency room visits as well as substantiated child maltreatment which drive childhood trauma, negative health impacts, and child welfare system involvement; Family stability: For highest risk families, the achievement of key, measurable stability goals including obtaining child care, health care (such as treatment for maternal depression), and housing for homeless or unstably housed families; and Caregiver employment: Achievement of attaining and maintaining a job or enrolling in and completing proven education or training programs, thereby advancing family economic stability and success while reducing dependence on safety net programs.

Connecticut utilizes a “rate card” model that incentivizes providers to implement family-centered

approaches responsive to the individual parents’ and their children’s necessities. Pay for Performance or Success projects in the U.S. are typically based on population-level outcomes. However, this rate card model, like those common in the United Kingdom, tracks individual family outcomes and rewards providers for every positive outcome achieved per family.77

case study: the jeremiah program With seven nationwide locations, all in urban settings, The Jeremiah Program offers housing and life-skills training for low-income single mothers alongside its ECE services, translating to a $4 return for every $1 invested in two-generation services, largely due to the following:

77 percent of program graduates (mothers) significantly decreased reliance on public assistance.

88 percent of program participants ages 0-5 are performing above age-appropriate developmental benchmarks.

68 percent of graduates increase their income.

100 percent of graduates are able to afford safe housing.78


return for every dollar invested in two-generation services at Jeremiah Program

WATCH: Myisha Holmes shares that she experienced periods of strain after each of her children were born. Looking back she recognizes it was postpartum depression. In October’s community feedback session, the Family Well-being Solution Team considers how neighborhood centers could destigmatize and increase mental health access for new parents like Myisha. 62


of graduates are able to afford safe housing at Jeremiah Program

Our Solutions


FW-2.2: Proactive support for parents


Additionally, early education providers should offer proactive and positive support to new parents. This solution points to the critical neural changes in both fathers and mothers, supporting expanded efforts to strengthen family connections and parent-child involvement, and support mental health. Direct-service agencies should consider including screening for parents’ own trauma, parents’ preparedness for parenting (including parenting self-efficacy and exposure to positive parenting models), and for early signs that parents feel overwhelmed by the parenting role. Parents with these risk factors, and also those with depression and anxiety during or before pregnancy, should be prioritized for additional services before and directly after their child’s birth.

A transformed ECE system in St. Louis should include increased access to culturally responsive prenatal care supports and programs, as well as medical and mental health supports for children, pregnant women, and families. These supports are critical for both children and their parents or guardians. It is important that these supports are responsive to the lived experiences and conditions of the family and for health practitioners to be culturally responsive. For instance, direct-service providers often focus on filling the material gaps families face (e.g., the lack of food or housing). Providers should approach mental health services for families in a similar fashion—as a key part of wraparound services that families need to achieve stability. Services should be allocated more deliberately near the birth of a child, or the type of services provided should take into consideration how recently the birth occurred.

case study: spaces for harlem Through clinical and group education intervention of the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership (NMPP), a nonprofit organization, and its Central Harlem Healthy Start Program, over 9,500 women and their children have been linked and maintained in care. Since the program’s inception in 1990 when the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 27.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, the IMR in Central Harlem has plummeted to 5.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004. This is much better than the national IMR of 6.78. From 2001 to 2007 on average, there had been fewer than 10 infant deaths per 1,000 live births within the community. The agency also actively advocated for reforms in urban services that directly affect the health of its target population. NMPP embarked on a campaign to reduce the number of bus depots in the Harlem community because of the established correlation between diesel engine fumes emitted by buses with low birth weight. It likewise supported the building of supermarkets that provide

Because evidence-based home visiting reduces preterm births and infant deaths, improves maternal and child health, and decreases emergency room visits,79 80 this strategy is its own separate solution in this section of the playbook. Still, healthcare providers should encourage new and expecting mothers to take advantage of this underutilized service, particularly those challenged by poverty. healthier foods to its constituents while ensuring that the bid of the New York City government to construct 165,000 affordable housing units is realized. As of November 2008, a number of its Healthy Start consumers have availed of the over 82,000 units that had been built so far and are now raising their families in a decent and secure environment. To sustain families’ economic and physical well-being, NMPP introduced a job readiness program that had placed over 890 women in full-time and parttime employment. At the policy level, Spaces for Harlem supported the empowerment-zone legislation initiated over a decade ago, which infused Harlem with up to $300 million in block grants for community revitalization and jobcreation projects. With the advent of gentrification and its social and economic cost on poor and working class residents, NMPP coalesced with like-minded groups to put pressure on local public leaders and private sector representatives to increase the growth of affordable housing and help boost the business acumen of local vendors so they could compete with larger stores that have settled on 125th street.81 63

Family Well-Being


Our Solutions

FW-3: ADVANCE LOCAL AND STATE POLICIES THAT IMPROVE FINANCIAL SECURITY Research shows that increasing a family’s financial stability leads to higher educational and life outcomes for that family’s children.

FW-3.1: Leaders in the ECE space should

advocate for policies to increase the minimum wage FW-3.2: Establish Child Development Accounts Leaders in the ECE space should also advocate for policies to establish Child Development Accounts (CDAs). CDAs are savings or investment accounts, often started when a child is born. The account could be “seeded” with an initial lump sum, then deposits made by parents/guardians and their children would be equitably matched by public dollars capped at a certain monthly or annual limit. Funds would be restricted to certain uses like post-secondary education or the downpayment on a first home.

case study: child development accounts Though a national CDA program does not exist, states like Oklahoma and cities like San Francisco have piloted programs. In Oklahoma, the SEED program included automatic enrollment for 2,600 randomly selected newborns in the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, initial deposits of $1,000, and 1:1 matching of deposits made by low-income families for up to four years. Reports show that CDAs positively impact a child’s social and emotional development at age four in disadvantaged households, and that mothers reported fewer depressive symptoms. CDA programs exist in other countries like Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Uganda.82 In Uganda, results show CDAs have the potential to begin negating the effects of gender inequality for girls in the study.83


Family Well-Being

FW-4: BUILD PARENT AND GUARDIAN ADVOCACY SKILLS Build families’, educators’, and other stakeholders’ ability to effectively organize and advocate for change at all levels and ensure most-impacted voices inform key decisions at all levels through philanthropic investment. Investments should support the following strategies:

Speak up at community meetings and contact policy-makers about issues affecting them

Be engaged in other civic or community activities

• Community organizing and advocacy leadership trainings for parents and guardians

InnerCity Struggle Parent Organizer Roberto Bustillo highlighted how his organization in Los Angeles uses community organizing to build parent power as a catalyst for positive change in public education. Identifying parent voice is at the core of their educational equity and discipline reform strategies. Armed with the cultivated support of parents, ICS and its partners won a recent campaign to ensure equitable funding allocation in the LA school district.

• Family-led advocacy efforts and campaigns • Identification, placement, and support of mostimpacted stakeholders, particularly families and educators, as they serve in governance-level roles where policies and financial decisions are made • Capacity-building for parents/guardians to effectively read, analyze, and critique data and leverage data to advocate for change • Developing a strong set of parent organizers and advocates at all ECE centers, homes, and schools Community organizing and capacity building is vital, not just to create buy-in, but to catalyze and sustain equitable education reform and systems change efforts.

case study: detroit As part of Hope Starts Here, Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership, the Detroit Parent Network facilitates courses where parents are engaged to listen, learn, and speak on behalf of themselves and their children to promote efficacy and responsiveness to children’s needs. Through this process, parents identify common causes around which they mobilize others and learn to leverage emotions, politics, economics, and the law to bring about change. Researchers have found that parents who complete leadership and advocacy training are much more likely to:


Advocate for issues and develop programs to address needs in their community

case study: los angeles

case study: chicago In 1995, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) in Chicago developed a program with principals and teachers to engage parents in a low-income, immigrant community beyond just the handful of parents who regularly volunteered at the schools. In 2010, LSNA started the Parent Engagement Institute to scale the Parent Mentor Program model statewide. The program now operates in at least 65 schools throughout Illinois with some financial support from the Illinois State Board of Education. To date, over 1,300 parents have graduated from the mentor training and coaching programs the institutes provide. The results in Chicago are clear—engaging parents, especially through community organizing and capacity building, improves student (improved test scores and graduation rates) and parent (strengthened social capital) outcomes.84

Our Solutions

FW-5: MAXIMIZE UTILIZATION OF AND INCREASE FUNDING FOR EVIDENCE-BASED HOME VISITING PROGRAMS A transformed ECE system in St. Louis will focus on maximizing take-up rates (the rate at which those eligible for programs take advantage of them) and increase funding at the local and state level for evidence-based home visiting programs. The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County should assist in the early childhood development of the children of lower SES families by creating long-term structures of funding for prenatal through kindergarten home visits. From prenatal through kindergarten, lower SES families should have the option of receiving home visits from an assigned practitioner trained in race-equity and trauma-informed support. Research also indicates that high-quality home visiting programs can increase children’s school readiness, enhance parents’ abilities to support their children’s overall development, improve family economic self-sufficiency, and produce a substantial return on investment.85 Practitioners should be well-versed in existing social support services and programs and actively share this information with families. Home visits should include goals of improving maternal and child health, preventing child abuse and neglect, encouraging positive parenting and promoting child development and school readiness.

prioritizing enrollment of pregnant women and families with greater financial needs. The program has been shown to have positive effects on kindergarten readiness and test scores, including for low-SES children, particularly if families opt-in early and pair with preschool.87

NFP serves first-time, poverty-impacted mothers and requires clients to begin services by the twentyeighth gestational week. Services continue until the child’s second birthday. NFP yields significant short- and long-term benefits. The program has been shown to improve parenting practices, maternal and child health, and child cognitive skills.88

case study: new jersey’s mixed-delivery ece system The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses homevisiting services by nurses as a child abuse and neglect prevention method for families most impacted by poverty. Evidence also highlights the effectiveness of home visiting in addressing child health inequities, development, and school readiness.86 Evidence-based home visiting programs have been implemented in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, five US territories, and twenty-five tribal communities. The largest U.S. examples are Parents as Teachers (PAT) and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP):

PAT is designed for all families with young children not yet in kindergarten, with some local programs


Family Well-Being




• • • •

reduced barriers to family well-being

ECE Centers School Districts Community Centers Newly Formed Coordinating Entity

• •


• • • • • •

Missouri State Legislature Grassroots Organizations BJC Healthcare, Mercy SSM Health Generate Health St. Louis Integrated Health Network

increased families as advocates and leaders • •


• • •

Decreased Infant and Maternal Mortality/ Morbidity Decreased Income Disparities Between White and People Of Color Multiple Points Of Access To Mental Health Systems

Families At All Decision-Making Tables Two-Gen Lens Used To Create/Assess Policies And Practices

Missouri State Legislature Grassroots Organizations CDA Coalition


• • •

ECE Centers School Districts Grassroots Organizations


• • •


Missouri State Legislature Newly Formed Coordinating Entity Local Philanthropic Community

Engaging parents, especially through community organizing and capacity building, improves student and parent outcomes.

Our Solutions

Tomorrow Builder fellow Kate Polokonis’ children


Tomorrow Builders



It is time to move from generating solutions to implementing them. Below is a timeline for implementation divided into three phases to move us towards system change.

Who has the power? We have the power! Who has the power? We have the power! We have the power to create change today.

WATCH: Adrienne Pennington leads a chant

at the community feedback event.

phase 1 2020



Establish a 501(c)3 nonprofit tasked with quarterbacking the region’s ECE system


Ensure most-affected community members lead system coordination

phase 2 2021

phase 3 2022 & beyond


phase 1 2020

phase 2 2021

phase 3 2022 & beyond

GC-3 Facilitate the creation

of a regional centralized data hub


Pursue a modest sales tax increase via ballot initiative in 2020


Better leverage existing funding sources


Continually pursue other new public and private investment strategies


Implement a local Quality Assurance Report (QAR) system


Tomorrow Builders

OUR ACTION PLAN phase 1 2020


Develop and implement a universal kindergarten readiness assessment for the region


Invest in ongoing professional development


Provide competitive wages and benefits

Increase equitable access

W-2 to professional credentials

Create early pipelines to

W-3 the ECE profession


phase 2 2021

phase 3 2022 & beyond


OUR ACTION PLAN phase 1 2020


phase 2 2021

phase 3 2022 & beyond

Establish neighborhoodbased two-generation hubs

FW-2 Increase access to

culturally responsive health care

FW-3 Advance local and state policies that improve financial security

FW-4 Build parent and guardian advocacy skills

FW-5 Increase funding for home visiting programs


Tomorrow Builders

Ecosystem Map This early childhood education (ECE) ecosystem map was created in partnership with the Clark-Fox Family Foundation with the intention to support community members and systems leaders as they organize, advocate, and create equitable systems change. It was created in tandem with the publication of this playbook. We envision this map to be a living document. Don't see an organization you believe we should include? Fill out the form here: BIT.LY/2FJLVA4

Visit the interactive map online at: BIT.LY/2QNLH3A




SIGN UP TO SUP PORT Tomorrow Builders



Join the Action WE DID IT! We came together, we humbly acknowledged the challenges too many of our region’s children, future children, their families, and communities face daily. Yet, we dared to dream. We dared to dream of a better tomorrow, where those challenges will be eradicated and replaced with equitable opportunities for every child to be able to thrive. We dared to imagine what’s possible.

Now we need to take action to make these dreams and solutions a reality. SO, JOIN US! Make the pledge to activate your power and transform our radical imaginations into a future we can celebrate–one where every child and family has access to a high-quality ECE experience that is a springboard to a life of opportunity.


Sign on in support!



Tomorrow Builders

Acknowledgements What Forward Through Ferguson and our region’s history have taught us is that this work— systems change, racial equity, building a better tomorrow­–is only possible through radical collaboration. This work engages a variety of partners.

WEPOWER STAFF CHARLI COOKSEY founder & ceo, wepower

JOEY SAUNDERS director of policy + systems change, wepower

DESIGN COUNCIL LISA CLANCY 5th district councilwoman, st. louis county council

MAXINE CLARK ceo, clark-fox family foundation; founder, build-a-bear workshop

DR. SHARONICA HARDIN-BARTLEY superintendent, university city school district

DR. TERRY HARRIS executive director of student services, rockwood school district

ALISON FERRING community volunteer

ADRIENNE PENNINGTON tomorrow builders fellow; owner & director of alexus palace child development center

KATIE KAUFMANN director, ready by 21

DR. PAULA KNIGHT deputy superintendent of st. louis public schools

LINDA RALLO vice president, aligned

CONSTANCE RUSH director of advocacy, deaconess foundation

SHERRY BOLDS director & ceo, one to grow on childcare centers

PABLO FLINN principal, normandy high school of normandy school district

KRYSTA GRANGENO tomorrow builders fellow; family partners director, southside early childhood center

DR. SEAN JOE associate dean for faculty & research, george warren brown school of social work; principal investigator of homegrown stl

GLORIA NOLAN tomorrow builders fellow; advocacy & operations coordinator/community leader in residence, wepower

BECKY JAMES HATTER president and ceo of big brothers big sisters oF eastern missouri; former commissioner, ferguson commission


ELLICIA LANIER executive director of urban sprouts



GENNIFER LUBERDA children’s home & aid

JEFF SCHULZ bellwether education partners

HOLLY BELL missouri association for infant & early childhood mental health


KYLIE WHEELER the children’s funding project

STEVE CARTWRIGHT consultant ALLISON GEE parents as teachers

JASON PURNELL health equity works ABBY SCHACHNER learning policy institute













































Tomorrow Builders

Endnotes 1. Skip NV.=, “Structures that Foster Effective System Change Efforts in Early Childhood: STL RECC 2019 Retreat Findings,” (2019).

2. Ibid. 3. IFF, “The First Step to Equity: Building a Better Future

Through Early Childhood Education in St. Louis,” accessed November 27, 2019,

4. William T. Gormley, Ted Gayer, Jr., Deborah Phillips,

and Brittany Dawson, “The Effects of Universal Pre-K on Cognitive Development,” Developmental Psychology 41, no. 6, (November 2005): 872-884,

5. “FAQs,” Denver Preschool Program, last modified 2019,

6. IFF, The First Step to Equity: Building a Better Future Through Early Childhood Education in St. Louis.

7. Hope Starts Here, Detroit’s Community Framework for

Brighter Futures, accessed November 27, 2019,

8. The Education Trust, Young Learners, Missed Opportunities:

Ensuring That Black and Latino Children Have Access to High-Quality State-Funded Preschool, (November 2019), uploads/2014/09/05162154/Young-Learners-Missed-Opportunities.pdf.

9. Carlise King, Victoria Perkins, Courtney Nugent, and

Elizabeth Jordan, 2018 State of State Early Childhood Data Systems, (Bethesda, MD: Child Trends, 2018), https://www.

10. “Wisconsin’s Early Childhood Integrated Data System (EC-

IDS),” Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, accessed November 28, 2019, ecids.

11. King, Perkins, Nugent, and Jordan, 2018 State of State Early Childhood Data Systems, p. 27.

12. King, Perkins, Nugent, and Jordan, 2018 State of State Early Childhood Data Systems.

13. Joy Sotolongo, Kate Steber, Margaret Soli, Gayane Arturov-

na Baziyants, Tracy Gebhart, and Lauren Supplee, Launching the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa: Highlights and Lessons Learned from the First Year, (Bethesda, MD: Child Trends, October 2018), wp-content/uploads/2019/01/TulsaBEST_ChildTrends_October2018.pdf

14. IFF, The First Step to Equity: Building a Better Future Through Early Childhood Education in St. Louis.

15. IFF, The First Step to Equity: Building a Better Future 80

Through Early Childhood Education in St. Louis.

16. Ibid. 17. Ibid. 18. Elizabeth A. Deichmann, St. Louis City and County Early

Childhood Education Fiscal Map. (St. Louis, MO: Community Innovation and Action Center at University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2019).

19. Ibid. 20. Child Care Aware of New Jersey, Providing Preschool Using a Mixed-Delivery System, (October 2015), https://www. Mixed%20Delivery%20Issue%20Brief.pdf.

21. W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung, Min-Jong Youn, Ellen C.

Frede, Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up, (New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research, 2013), wp-content/uploads/2013/11/APPLES205th20Grade.pdf.

22. “Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five,” Early

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23. “EEC Awards $500,000 in Commonwealth Preschool

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24. “Governor Northam Announces Third Round of Mixed-De-

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25. Lindsey Allard Agnamba, Laura E. Hawkinson, BreAnna

Davis Tribble, and Nicole Sharpe, Mixed Delivery Evaluation Final Report: Evaluation of Virginia’s Mixed Delivery Preschool Pilot, (Richmond, VA: Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, August 2019), uploads/2019/09/SRC-Mixed-Delivery-Final-Report-Aug.2019-final.pdf.

26. IFF. The First Step to Equity: Building a Better Future Through Early Childhood Education in St. Louis.

27. Ibid. 28. “FAQs,” Denver Preschool Program. 29. Ibid. 30. “From an Innovative Concept to a National Model: 20062016 Our Story,” Denver Preschool Program, accessed November 27, 2019,


31. The Butler Institute for Families, Denver Preschool Program

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32. Barnett, Jung, Youn, Frede, Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up.

33. Linda Jacobson, “Pre-to-3: 20 years of NJ’s Abbott pre-k

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34. Barnett, Jung, Youn, Frede, Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up.

35. Ibid. 36. Pre-K Our Way, School Districts with New Jersey’s

State-Funded, Full-Day, High-Quality Public School Preschool Program, accessed November 28, 2019, https://

37. “U.S. Department of Education, Preschool Development

Grants 2016 Annual Performance Report: New Jersey,” August 2017,

38. Missouri Department of Social Services, Child Care and

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39. Stacie G. Goffin and W. Steven Barnett, “Assessing QRIS as a Change Agent.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 30, part B, (2015): 179-182,

40. Kimberly Boller, Diane Paulsell, Patricia DelGrosso, Randall

Blair, Eric Lundquis, Danielle Z. Kassow, Rachel Kim, and Abbie Raikes, “Impacts of a Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System on Child Care Quality,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 30, part B (January 2015): 306-315,

41. Noreen Yazejian and Iheoma U. Iruka, “Associations among

tiered quality rating and improvement system supports and quality improvement,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 30, part B (January 2015): 255-265, ecresq.2014.05.005.

42. Simon Workman, QRIS 101, (Washington, D.C.: Cen-

ter for American Progress, May 11, 2017), https://

43. “Scholars for Excellence in Child Care,” Oklahoma State

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44. “QRIS Guide,” Oklahoma, U.S. Department of Health and

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45. “How it Works,” ExceleRate Illinois, accessed November 28, 2019,

46. “State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies: Are

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47. Sima Bernstein, W. Steven Barnett and Debra J. Ackerman,

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48. Jessica Goldstein, D. Betsy McCoach and HuiHui Yu, “The

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51. Jessica Goldstein, D. Betsy McCoach and HuiHui Yu, “The Predictive Validity of Kindergarten Readiness Judgements: Lessons from One State.”

52. Sima Bernstein, W. Steven Barnett and Debra J. Ackerman, What is Readiness? Preparing All Children to Succeed in Kindergarten and Beyond.

53. “School Readiness Tool,” Missouri Department of Ele-

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54. Walter S. Gilliam, Angela N. Maupin, Chin R. Reyes, Maria

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Tomorrow Builders

58. Julie Scharper, “Research shows the first five years are

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64. Jim Minervino, Lessons from Research and the Classroom:

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65. U.S. Department of Education, High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce Low Compensation Undermines Quality.

66. Marnie Kaplan and Sara Mead, The Best Teachers for Our

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68. Gary W. Evans, Henry N. Ricciuti, Steven Hope, Ingrid

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69. Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Patricia Garrett-Peters, Michael

Willoughby, Roger Mills-Koonce, and Family Life Project Key Investigators, “Chaos, poverty, and parenting: Predictors of early language development.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 27, no. 3 (2012): 339-351, ecresq.2011.11.001.

70. Christopher J. Trentacosta, Luke W. Hyde, Daniel S. Shaw,

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73. City of St. Louis, Equity Indicators Baseline Report, 2018, initiatives/resilience/equity/documents/equity-indicators-baseline-report.cfm

74. Ibid. 75. G. Scott Thomas, “St. Louis ranks among nation’s 20 worst

cities for child poverty,” St. Louis Business Journal, Jan 17, 2019, st-louis-ranks-among-nations-20-worst-cities-for.html.

76. Aspen Institute, Reimagining 2Gen Pathways- Bold Ideas for

2015, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, June 2015, https://ascend.

77. David Wilkinson and Roxane White, “Reinventing the Way

We Measure Family Outcomes,” Blog Posts, The Aspen Institute, last updated February 14, 2018, https://www.

78. Jose Y. Diaz and Gabriel Piña, Return on investment in the

Jeremiah Program, (St. Paul MN: Wilder Research, April 2013),

79. Stefanie Clothier and Jack Tweedie, “Bringing Up Baby,” State Legislatures 38, no. 1 (2012): 24-26, http://www. SL_0112-Baby.pdf

80. “Home Visiting,” Programs & Initiatives, Maternal & Child Health, Health Resources & Services Administration, last updated September 2019,


81. Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Inno-

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82. “Child Development Accounts,” Center for Social Devel-

opment, Brown School at Washington University, accessed November 26, 2019,

83. Jami Curley, Fred M Ssewamala, Proscovia Nabunya, Vilma Ilic, and Han Chang Keun, “Child Development Accounts (CDAs): An Asset-Building Strategy to Empower Girls in Uganda,” International social work 59. no. 1 (2016), https://

84. Collective Impact Consulting. “Parent Impact Survey.”

Logan Square Neighborhood Association. May 2014. http://

85. Zero to Three, The Research Case for Home Visiting, February 2014,

86. Council on Community Pediatrics, “The Role of Preschool

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87. Parents as Teachers, The Parents as Teachers Program: Its

Impact on School Readiness and Later School Achievement, April 2007.

88. James Heckman, Nurse-Family Partnership: Parental edu-

cation and early health result in better child outcomes, (Chicago, IL: The Heckman Equation at University of Chicago, 2017), HECKMAN_NurseFamilyPartnership_071317.pdf