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Expanding access to an interactive, easy-to-use early learning platform

Reimagining how early development knowledge is shared with parents by coordinating enrollment in an evidence-based texting platform

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  • Collective impact initiative

Tell us about your idea

How might equip parents with the tools to confidently and easily support early learning and development at home – particularly for communities of color, immigrant communities and low-income families, who are disproportionately impacted by the economic and health effects of the pandemic?

In response to Covid-19, our county – like most others – closed schools, child care centers and local businesses to prevent the spread of the virus. Unemployment across the state increased by almost 15%, and total earnings for small business employees in our community shrunk by 56%. Interviews with families of young children, teachers, social workers and field experts serving communities indicate increased stress and anxiety, particularly for communities of color and low-income communities: caregivers are overwhelmed and feel unequipped to support learning at home; resources that are available aren’t easy to access or understand, and don’t keep children engaged; families are at increased risk for violence and abuse; and the existing stressors around food, rent and employment are exacerbated.

In response, a cross-sector community team designed a strategy aimed at providing just-in-time access to interactive, easy-to-use early learning resources for families struggling with additional stress. Guided by community voice, the strategy will aim to increase access to an evidence-based platform, Ready4K – a texting platform shown to promote family engagement, equip caregivers with easy-to-use knowledge and tools, and increase learning at home by 2 to 3 months over the course of a year. The platform responds to the needs expressed by community, enabling parents and caregivers to easily understand how to support their child’s development at home – during everyday activities and using resources they already have at home.

The pilot team will work with trusted community leaders and partners, including faith organizations, child care centers, Department of Social Services, pediatricians and the school system – folks who are already working with families of young children to help enroll families in the texting program. For the first pilot, they’ll observe barriers to enrollment – including concerns from families. They’ll adapt based on feedback and adjust their communication strategy to enroll more families. The team will also partner with school system social workers, who are trained in Triple P Positive Parenting Program, to help promote social-emotional growth and development.

Along with two additional teams working on other strategies, the team hopes to improve just-in-time access to learning resources, basic necessities and social-emotional supports for 140 families with children 0-5 in two elementary school attendance zones.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

This team wants to leave behind the idea that learning starts at school, and that we as a community don’t have the ability to improve the system of early education supports for families and young children. We want to leave behind the idea that parents -- especially parents of color and low-income parents -- don't value their child's education and don't work as hard as possible to support early learning at home and get them ready for school.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

This is a cross-sector team that includes a school counselor, school system data specialist, kindergarten teacher, pre-K teacher, pastor, health system representatives and United Way representative. This team is part of Alamance Achieves, a collective impact initiative in Alamance County, NC that aims to improve education and health outcomes from cradle to career, and is part of a larger collaborative network specifically focusing on reducing barriers to kindergarten readiness for students in two elementary school zones.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

Alamance County, NC

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