Applied Survey Research team members attended First 5 California's 2018 Child Health, Education, and Care Summit from April 10-12, 2018 in Los Angeles. The Summit features workshops, presentations, and keynotes from experts in research and evaluation, health, education, and family support where early childhood stakeholders from around the state can learn from and collaborate with one another.
ASR presented along with local First 5 experts in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Solano Counties on three important topics. Summaries along with presentation PowerPoints are showcased below.
ASR presented findings from a school readiness assessment conducted with entering kindergartners and their family in San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa, and our partners at First 5 agencies in these counties shared how they use data to inform policy and practice in their communities. The school readiness assessment found that just over 4 in 10 children in the region were fully ready for school, meaning they were proficient or nearly proficient in their social-emotional and academic readiness skills. Although some of the predictors of readiness were demographic (e.g., age, gender, and race/ethnicity), many of the factors could be changed with intervention. For example, the strongest predictors of higher readiness were attending formal early childhood education (Transitional Kindergarten, or licensed preschool or family care) and coming to school well-rested and well-fed. In addition, children with higher readiness went to bed earlier, read more frequently with their families, and visited the library, suggesting education and support for caregivers regarding these routines and activities could empower them to help their children come to school ready to learn.
Following the presentation of the school readiness assessment, representatives from First 5 Alameda, First 5 Contra Costa, and First 5 San Francisco, discussed how the school readiness assessment has informed their work, led to partnerships with other agencies in the county, and has been used to advocate for local policies. First 5 Alameda shared how the data have been used to evaluate local early childhood initiatives, demonstrate areas in the county with the greatest needs, and advocate for policies to increase funding for early childhood education. First 5 Contra Costa discussed how the data are being used to deepen their relationship with school districts and city and county agencies to develop solutions to close the kindergarten readiness gaps in their county.
Finally, First 5 San Francisco reviewed how the data prompted community conversations about the development of programs and systems of care to improve readiness levels, leading to the countywide reauthorization of universal preschool and the adoption of an annual school readiness assessment for every kindergarten classroom in San Francisco Unified School District.
ASR and First 5 Solano presented on systems change activities that First 5 Solano has engaged in to strengthen, integrate, expand, and sustain the county’s early childhood system. They first discussed the motivation for engaging in systems change; like many First 5 agencies around the state, First 5 Solano was faced with dwindling resources, but continued demand for early childhood services.
To address this need, in 2016, the First 5 Solano Commission adopted a Systems Change Action Plan that included four mutually reinforcing goals: 1) Strengthening systems with increased provider capacity; 2) Expanding systems with leveraged or new financial resources; 3) Integrating systems through increased cross-system understanding, referral and collaboration; and 4) Sustaining systems with legislative and policy changes. In addition to sharing the elements of this plan, the presentation covered highlights from the first year of its implementation, including: surveying local providers to discover their greatest organizational capacity needs; securing a grant for non-profit leaders to attend the UC Berkeley Extension Fundraising and Volunteer Management Program; commissioning ASR to conduct an analysis of foundation giving in the region; developing a “funders packet” for local agencies to build relationships with funders; submitting over $3 million in new funding requests; leveraging community clinics to implement developmental screenings with no ongoing cost to First 5; implementing Solano Kids Thrive, a collective impact initiative focused on trauma and resilience; using Help Me Grow as the connection between service providers; and creating a First 5 Solano Legislative Platform.
Finally, presenters shared lessons learned from the first year, such as the importance of relationship building with community partners, involving partners from various sectors, and focusing on the common vision shared by partners.
Representatives from ASR, First 5 Santa Clara, the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District, and SOMOS Mayfair, presented on a prenatal to third grade initiative launched in the Alum Rock neighborhood of East San Jose.
ASR shared data on third grade standardized test scores and findings from school readiness assessments it has conducted in the Alum Rock district: just over one-quarter of entering kindergartners in the district are fully ready for school and just one-third of third graders are meeting state reading standards. ASR also presented data demonstrating the multiple child, family, and community factors that predict kindergarten readiness in Alum Rock. First 5, the school district, and SOMOS Mayfair then discussed the efforts they are engaged to turn the curve on readiness and third grade outcomes through the Prenatal – 3rd Grade Health & Early Learning System initiative, including increasing access to and enrollment in subsidized preschool, measuring and improving preschool quality, providing health and developmental screenings and connection to early intervention services, and offering parent education and family support services through family resource centers. ASR showed how these efforts can have both direct and indirect effects on school readiness.
The presenters concluded by discussing the importance of continuous communication amongst partners in the initiative, a systems approach to address school readiness and achievement gaps, and a commitment from partners to the achievement of a clear and measurable common goal.