Educare organizations win nearly $30 million in federal grants to boost quality of infant and toddler programs

CHICAGO – Eleven Educare organizations were awarded federal grants to work with child care providers to improve the quality of services they provide to low-income infants, toddlers and their families. The grants were part of the $435 million in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships awarded Dec. 10 by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.

Eleven Educare organizations received grants totaling $29.1 million that will allow them to reach nearly 2,200 more vulnerable infants, toddlers and their families in 121 child care centers and family child care homes with high-quality early education. An additional two Educare organizations are lead partners in other organizations’ partnerships, which were awarded $5.2 million.

“These new partnerships are a game changer for children from birth to age three and their families, both in Educare communities and across the country,” said Gladys Montes, vice president, United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, Educare Miami-Dade. “We’re thrilled that the federal government is confident in Educare’s ability to provide access to quality care and education for more of our country’s youngest citizens and their families.”

Educare leaders will provide training and resources to their child care partners

With the new grant dollars, Educare organizations will work with local child care centers and family child care homes. Educare organization leaders will provide training and resources to their child care partners to strengthen the quality of their programs by reducing class sizes, improving instructional quality and providing comprehensive services such as family support and mental health.

The Educare Schools that will participate in these new partnerships are located in Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, KS, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Omaha, NE, Phoenix, Seattle, Tulsa, OK, Waterville, ME, and Winnebago, NE.

“Educare organizations are well positioned to implement the new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships,” said Caren Calhoun, executive director of Tulsa Educare. “Each Educare School is built on strong partnerships between Early Head Start, school districts, local philanthropists and community organizations. Our schools are also successful at blending federal, state and local education and child care funds to provide full-day, full-year care and education for our most vulnerable children.”

Critical brain development happens during the first three years of life, but many babies born into low-income families don’t receive the stimulating interactions with adults at home or in child care that they need for healthy development. Research has shown that Early Head Start successfully helps infants and toddlers develop essential cognitive and social skills, while encouraging parents to actively support their child’s health and education. But despite the evidence of effectiveness, the Early Head Start program currently reaches only 4% of eligible children under age 3 living in poverty.

An independent evaluation of Educare Schools has also shown consistently impressive findings. Educare prepares vulnerable children with the vocabulary, social-emotional and school readiness skills they need to be successful in school and life. Educare classrooms lead the field across a variety of measures ofclassroom and instructional quality. In addition, research shows the longer children attend Educare, the better they do.

Children who enter Educare before age 3 score significantly higher on vocabulary measures than those who enter during their preschool years.