Q2 2013 Update
The nearly 300 children in CPC programs in MN had their last day of school in early June, and are on their way to enjoying summer vacation. The CPC Expansion project has had several achievements and challenges this year. One challenge has been building the CPC culture in schools new to the model. Creating a welcoming environment for all families and children is a tremendous challenge, but a crucial task. Our greatest achievements this year have been in schools where the culture of the school changed to more deeply engage the families.
CPC Parent Resource Rooms were new to nearly all MN sites this year, and served as hubs of all kinds of resources to fulfill a family’s needs. There are many stories of CPC staff helping families find a place to live, helping with parents’ resumes and holding mock interviews and parents attending workshops that change the way they think about how their children learn and develop. We are consistently asked about the secret to success when it comes to family engagement. Our answer is always “relationships”! There are many communication tools, but none more effective than a friendly face at the door asking how they can help.
Early Learning Challenge
In May, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced the appointment of Melvin Carter III as the new Director of the Office of Early Learning. As director, Carter will oversee a coordinated effort with the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, including overseeing the Race to the Top – Early learning Challenge Grant and resulting state plan. Director Carter will also travel the state to work with communities on their efforts to ensure every child, from birth to grade three, is on a path to success.
In other news, the Department of Education has released guidance for 3 and 4 star rated early learning programs interested in helping eligible families in their program or on their waiting list access state-funded Early Learning Scholarships. The Department is also seeking proposals from agencies interested in administering the Early Learning Scholarship program in communities across Minnesota.
Northside Achievement Zone
Today, about one quarter of children living in our Zone start kindergarten ready to learn—marking the beginning of the achievement gap. In 2012, we hired a NAZ Early Childhood Navigator who specializes in ensuring families get the right resources for their children. NAZ has already used Scholarships funded through the Early Learning Challenge grant to support young children in the Zone in attending three-and four-star Parent Aware rated early childhood centers. NAZ has connected more than 100 families to Early Learning Scholarships. Kids who were once passed from relative to relative throughout the day are now learning their numbers and letters through high-quality early learning programs.
According to Dianne Haulcy, COO of The Family Partnership, NAZ Anchor Collaborative Partner, “Over 90% of kids receiving NAZ Race to the Top scholarships have no other childcare assistance. Without the scholarships, families would have no other way to prepare their children for kindergarten.”