Educare Chicago
about educare > Developing an Educare School

Interested in learning how to bring Educare to your community? The Buffett Early Childhood Fund and the Ounce of Prevention Fund can provide guidance on developing an Educare School. Contact us for more information.

Phase One – Conceptualization

Identify an anchor philanthropist and other key funders

  • What is their history in funding early childhood programs?
  • How stable is their leadership?
  • How large are their resources?
  • Who else do they fund?
  • In addition to providing key financial support, might they be willing to provide capital campaign leadership and participate in shared governance?

Identify a Head Start partner

  • How many Head Start and Early Head Start slots do they have? How many are center-based and home-based?
  • Is there a desire and willingness to reallocate slots to Educare?
  • Do they have a successful peer review history? What is their reputation?
  • What is the history and capacity of their governing board to participate in a capital campaign?
  • What is their history of sustaining a willingness and commitment to change?
  • Is there a curiosity and desire to embrace quality standards — Master's and BA-degreed teachers, small group sizes, high staff-child ratios, continuity of care, reflective supervision, etc.

Identify a school superintendent

  • Is there an understanding of the importance of 0-5?
  • Is there existing local and/or state investment in 0-3? In pre-K?
  • What is the status of the superintendent's reputation?
  • Does the superintendent enjoy stable connections within the community?

Identify other community stakeholders

  • Who are the other stakeholders — from other branches of government, health care, higher education and elsewhere — who should be involved?
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Phase Two – Cultivation and Planning

Using lessons learned from successful — and failed — partnerships constructed during the course of creating the Educare Learning Network, as well as years of experience on other projects, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and the Ounce of Prevention Fund can assist in assessing the organizational will of each player as well as the strengths of the overall partnership.

Representatives from the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and the Ounce of Prevention Fund also can provide assistance in cultivating the new partnership by participating in local partnership-building meetings in which the Educare concept is introduced and roles are discussed. In addition, representatives can organize and host various types of visits to Educare Schools operating in Omaha and Chicago so local partners can see Educare for themselves.

Local partners and other stakeholders need to meet frequently to gain a full and shared understanding of their various roles and responsibilities. They need to recognize what they are contributing to the creation of Educare — as well as what they might be relinquishing. Ultimately, they must move toward accepting or rejecting not only the mission of Educare but the vision for Educare, as well. The mission — leveling the playing field for infants, toddlers and preschoolers who are at-risk of school failure — has many supporters. But the vision — requiring a new structure of shared governance, delineated in legally binding contracts and agreements — compels a new way of doing business.

Throughout this part of the process, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and the Ounce of Prevention Fund can provide guidance based on experience garnered through the Educare Learning Network as well as samples of Educare contracts, Network Partner Agreements and other materials.

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Phase Three – Implementation

The Educare contract spells out the roles and responsibilities of the key local partners, and outlines a governance structure for the new Educare School. The Network Partner Agreement describes the roles and responsibilities of participating in the Educare Learning Network.

Once the contract and agreement are signed, participants in the local partnership begin the next phase of work, which includes: raising capital to build the new center; securing appropriate operational funds to ensure high levels of quality; working with an architect to design the new center; hiring a center director, who then leads the effort to hire other staff and build the Educare program; and providing ongoing guidance and oversight as the project moves from groundbreaking to construction to enrollment of families to opening its doors to participating in long-term research and evaluation efforts.

Throughout this phase, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund are available to provide a high degree of technical assistance and consultation on matters ranging from all aspects of program development to building design to partnership maintenance. The technical assistance and consultation is provided in many forms, at various venues.

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