Early Care & Learning Strategic Action Team

EARLY CARE & LEARNING STRATEGIC ACTION TEAM also serves as Early Education Empowerment Zone (E3Z) Zero to Eight Team

Professional Chair: Tim Johnson, FC-CIS executive director

Neighborhood Leader Co-Chair: Gwen Littleton

Staff facilitator: Clayton Adams, Georgia Department of Early Care & Learning Clarke E3Z coordinator

Meeting schedule: Third Wednesday each month, 3:30 pm

Meeting location: Room 125, Building 2, 440 Dearing Extension, Athens

Contact: 706-369-9732, info@fc-cis.org

Description: Public agencies, private entities, neighborhood leaders and others work together for better outcomes for our youngest children. We identify gaps, develop and implement plans, leverage resources, and integrate services so that expectant families and families of children birth through third grade can directly access needed parent support and education, high quality early childhood care and education, social supports, and health and other services.

Outcome goals: Improved family stability, improved child health, reduced abuse and neglect, kindergarten readiness, and children meeting or exceeding third grade math, reading, and language arts performance standards.

Examples of accomplishments: Development of original Pre-K which was the model adopted by the state when the Lottery was approved. Creation of the School District’s Office of Early Learning, which braids federal, state, and local funding in providing Early Head Start, Head Start, Pre-K, Pre-School Special Education, home-based services, center-based services, and family literacy. Programs are strategically aligned with K-12 to strengthen school readiness. These programs have gained national recognition (a federal consultant stated that it is the strongest School-District-based early learning program in the nation); a UGA evaluator cited improvements in academic achievement through high school. Bringing Healthy Families (research based home visiting program for at risk new parents and children to age 4) to Athens. Operated by Prevent Child Abuse Athens, it has documented dramatic reductions in child abuse and neglect among participating families. Designation as one of four Early Education Empowerment Zones in Georgia, bringing more than $1 million in new resources to support early child development.

Examples of new/developing initiatives: Working to improve access for all young children to high quality early learning experiences, including improving private child care by promoting participation in the Quality Rated program. Working to increase local availability of foster homes (more than half of local foster children are placed outside the region due to the local shortage). Supporting early brain development and language nutrition. Working toward universal screening of young children for early identification of and connection to services to address those needs. Promotion of Neighborhood Leaders supporting early child development. Identify and implement support to address PTSD and other social/ emotional health needs in children and parents.

We were recently designated to partner with Dr. Jack Shonkoff and the Harvard Center for the Developing Child and its Frontiers of Innovation project to address needs of high risk children ages 0 to 3.

 

Examples of solutions for needs as identified by the SAT and the current status of the solutions

SOLUTION STATUS
Establish Early Learning Network EC&L SAT is in place, serves as E3Z Zero to Eight Team, which has full-time coordinator
Improve childcare workforce & professional development CCSD provides training for its staff and offers it at no charge to private providers. Quality Care for Children provides ongoing training and support. QCC provides training & support for enrollment into Quality Rated System. Most private providers have yet to enroll in QR.
Establish Professional Development School partnership between College of Ed & CCSD Office of Early Learning The Office of Early Learning is a PDS with a professor in residence and several professors engaged
Align private and public ECL curricula with Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards OEL programs are aligned. Through QR system, private are becoming more so. Part of team with Get Georgia Reading to greatly strengthen the alignment as pilot for statewide alignment.
Summer bridge programs Through E3Z, rising PreK for dual language learners is guaranteed.
Universal screening & assessment of preschool children Children 1st (Public Health), Babies Can’t Wait, Healthy Families, private centers enrolled in QCC’s quality improvement program, and OEL programs screen and assess. Not universal but moving in that direction
School Readiness Academy Not in place but some supports through Neighborhood Leaders program and for parents in OEL programs
ELN Family Resource Center & Central Intake Prevent Child Abuse Athens, Great Start Georgia and Public Health (Babies Can’t Wait) provide screen and resource & referral. Through E3Z we are creating a child care center-based Great Start Georgia pilot.  
Neighborhood Leader School Readiness specialists Some training has been provided and one NL has become an early care & education specialist but not yet in place due to lack of funding
Address toxic stress for young children in foster system New protocol was developed and implemented for DFCS to contact child care provider for pre-school children removed from the home, and to try to keep the child with that provider. Additional work is being done to improve assessments, including preventing inappropriate diagnoses (e.g. diagnosis of ADHD when the symptoms are a response to toxic stress). Partnership with Harvard Center for the Developing Child to pilot new innovations.
Provide and expand Early Head Start, Head Start, and PreK PreK serves over 90% of 4-year-olds in Clarke County. EHS and HS have doubled in size, now serving ~320 children, but the need is far greater
Provide scholarships to high quality early learning to make up the difference between what CAPS pays and what high quality costs Nancy Travis Childcare Program does this, but very limited due to lack of funding. Through E3Z, there will be tiered reimbursement based on quality.
Provide Healthy Families home visitation program Approximately 100 young children are currently enrolled (provided by Prevent Child Abuse Athens). This will expand through E3Z.
Expand Wee Read program (books for children ages 0-5) United Way’s Wee Read program mails ~2,500 books each month to children ages 0 to 5.
Provide family literacy for families with young children Athens Tech relocated its GED and basic adult ed to H. T. Edwards campus, as well as Classic City High School located there, allowing family literacy with families in Early Head Start and Head Start
Establish family visitation center for families with children in foster care Established through Children First in house donated by Emmanuel Episcopal Church

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