Improving the lives of at-risk children by enabling Dual Language Learners
An online childcare professional development platform to empower children whose family speak a language other than English.
Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)
The process has been quite magical and has definitely helped my idea evolve!
• The prize itself has helped me put the focus, energy, and resources needed to make this idea into a reality sooner than I had planned. For example, the resources provided by my mentor helped me see how I can scale the online platform in a broader way, as well as advancing in getting funding to continue with the development.
• The toolkits provided by OpenIdeo have helped me refine my ability to communicate my idea, tell my story in a much more clearer and persuasive way. I have made edits refining the story telling of my idea to get to the point.
• The feedback from the online community as well as from mentors and other colleagues in the field helped me deepen certain elements of the online platform such as diversifying languages, how to reach more markets (parents, family, friends and neighbors).
• Learning and interacting with other submissions have also helped refine my idea for example, looking into mobile technologies to reach more caregivers.
• During the process I have been getting feedback from current clients about the initial prototype and have made modifications in the content and formatting of the online platforms.
Name or Organization
Idea wil be implemented in all states of the U.S.A. including Colorado. Headquarters is in Houston.
What is your stage of development?
Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD
What is the stage of your proposal?
Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
Low-income children from families who do not speak English the U.S. are staying behind in their learning and development. Childcare providers of children ages 0-3 don’t have the tools to support these children's unique needs. This is a growing pain across the country. We want to change this. How? By providing childcare providers skills through a research-based, online and mobile professional development portal. Caregivers will learn strategies to support bilingual children. The end result will be children with better chances of success and improving our society in the U.S.A as a whole.
Select an Innovation Target
Channel: A new way to deliver existing products or services to customers or end users.
Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)
We aim to empower at risk children whose home language is other than English through an online and mobile professional development platform to help childcare providers learn strategies that will support the optimal development of children who are simultaneously learning English and their own home language (Dual Language Learners, DLLs) in the U.S.A.
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
Data in the U.S. is showing that 1 out of 3 children live in a home where a language other that English is spoken. This is a huge segment of of the population. The problem is that many of these children tend to lag behind in their learning and development and oftentimes never catch up. Those who care for children 0-3 need more professional development to learn skills to better support their success in school and lives. We want to solve this problem at scale and in a sustainable way.
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
Our project is in an online and mobile professional development portal to provide childcare providers with the strategies and skills to support infants and toddlers who are simultaneously learning their home language and English.
At ChildrenFlow, LLC we currently offer professional development through in-person trainings and coaching. We want to reach more providers to fulfill our mission of supporting as many at-risk children in the U.S. as possible.
Therefore, we want to scale our professional development offerings through technology platforms such as online and mobile so that we can reach as many providers as possible.
The new technology enabled channels will be interactive and highly engaging. It will consist of short videos/tutorials with research and evidence based content that is explained in a simple and concise ways for teachers to understand and apply. The content will be accesible many languages in order to meet the needs of the diverse population of the U.S.
The content will include strategies to support dual language learner's social-emotional development, language and cognitive development, create engaging learning environments, and how to better collaborate and partner with the families.
The platform will also include videos of teachers implementing these strategies with infants and toddlers. This will help exemplify how to apply strategies in a practical way.
Creating an online community of learners is key. The platform will include a community discussion board for providers to share ideas, ask questions, connect, and collaborate.
The strategies and content is directed towards those who care for infants and toddlers both in formal and informal care settings. Therefore, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors of children 0-3 will also benefit from the content.
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
The main beneficiary are young children 0-3 in the U.S. who are learning their home language and English. The skills their caregivers will gain through the online and mobile portal will help them fully develop their capacities. Providers who care for infants and toddlers will benefit from the online professional development portal because they will learn strategies to help support the development of dual language learners. These teachers may be in childcare settings, home family childcare programs, and other early education care settings.
In addition to that, nation-wide initiative such as Early Head Start programs, as well as state-wide quality improvement initiatives are looking for innovative tools to scale out quality improvement efforts to address the needs of this growing population of young children. They will be able to benefit from this platform to further reach their goals of providing quality improvement.
We have vast experience interacting with early care organizations and providers. Currently we offer on-site trainings, individual and group coaching sessions to teachers and organizations with large number of dual language learners. We are thought leaders and thinking partners in the field of early childhood education. However, in order to reach our mission of supporting every young dual language learner, we need to develop and fully launch a scalable, engaging online learning portal to make sure all children benefit.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
It has the capacity to make long-lasting impact in the lives of young dual language learners in the U.S.. It can help make systemic changes by supporting state-wide led Quality Rating and Improvement Systems in the field of early childhood education. It will help by continuing the efforts of professionalizing the skills of teachers who care for infants and toddlers.
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
A recent report by Child Trends found that dual language learners tend to live in low-income families. Below are segments found in their report:
(Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/dual-language-learners/)
"Children living in households where a language other than English is spoken are more likely to be poor than are children in English-only households (28 versus 19 percent, in 2013). Child poverty rates are highest in Spanish-speaking households (33 percent).
Children in poorer families are more likely to speak English less than very well. In 2013, 20 percent of DLL children in poor families (that is, those with incomes at or below the federal poverty level) spoke English less than very well, compared with 10 percent of DLL children in non-poor families.
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)
• My concept is disruptive because currently there are no online professional development platforms childcare providers focusing on strategies to support bilingual children ages 0-3.
• Another disruptive aspect is that content will be available in multiple languages and be culturally sensitive.
• Another unique aspect of it is that the research-based strategies presented take a holistic approach, supporting all aspects of the child to ensure success as they are developing their home language and English at the same time.
• The holistic strategies will be presented in simple ways that are easy for providers to understand and to apply immediately with the infants and toddlers.
• The information presented to teachers helps them take action immediately and apply these strategies right away.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
Quality Rating and Improvement systems are being implemented in the U.S. by state-wide lead initiatives to support the quality of early childhood education. They are targeting childcare and early education programs widely in their state. There is the opportunity to tap into the efforts of these state-led programs to support teachers who work with DLLs.
In addition to that market, Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the U.S. have in their new Performance Learning Standards the goal to provide more DLL professional development to teachers.
Numerous Non-for profits and for-profit organizations have initiatives to help improve quality of early childhood education. The platform can help serve their initiatives to provide support to teachers who work with young DLLs.
We want the platform to also grow organically through word of mouth by early adaptors and endorsement of other industry thought leaders. We are going to have a very thoughtful marketing communications plan to reach the market fully and reach long-term financial sustainability.
Some anticipated barriers to scaling could include lack of funding to develop the platform at the level it needs to be and getting the buy-in and usage of adoption such as caregivers not feeling comfortable utilizing digital platforms. However, we anticipate overcoming these barriers through thoughtful funding planning and constant user feedback as the platforms are being developed.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
As we have moved through the process of this prize, the idea has become even more feasible:
• So far we have developed robust professional development content on how to support children who are dual language learners. Our goal is to move this rich content to a digital and video format to provide it on the online and mobile platform.
• With our new partnerships that have developed over the process of this prize, the development and scaling of the idea is even more feasible. For example, we now have partnerships for the engineering, programming and UX side of the platform.
• Our plan is to move forward with more advanced prototyping and gathering feedback from the field to guide the design and implementation. We have developed a process for agile prototyping and gathering feedback from the end users.
• After the mentoring sessions with an expert venture capitalist, we have a plan to secure funding to develop and implement the platform. First, through private funding to advance the prototype to a more advanced stage. Afterwards we will be ready to approach venture capital firms, mission funding organizations and foundations that support edtech initiatives to fully develop and launch the platform.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)
The business model is very viable. Currently it is envisioned as a Subscription as a Services (SAAS) model. Organizations who are seeking evidence-based tools to improve quality of early education can invest in providing subscription to early childcare providers (either home or center based). Target market includes: Head Start, Early Head Start, State leads of Early childhood Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, Departments of Education with early care initiatives, for-profit and non-for profit early childcare organizations, foundations providing funding and support for quality improvement in early care such as United Way. There will also be the option for individuals to subscribe. Partnerships with other professional development organizations will be pursued to further scale the product/service with their current clients.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)
The design of my concept has been a result of taking a human centered approach. First, the field of early childhood quality improvement has expressed the need for tools to further support teachers who have children who are learning their home language and English. Through client consultation and interviews I have collected data that has collaborated with this need.
Other organizations have conducted studies to better understand this needs for further professional development such as First 5 California Dual Language Learner Pilot survey (http://www.ccfc.ca.gov/pdf/programs/dll/DLL%20Survey%203%2021%2016.pdf)
Statements for providing more support to this population of young children have been made in the new Head Start Performance Standards, the National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Department of Human Services. As I have reached out to programs they have expressed the need for more professional development tools to help teachers be better equipped to support bilingual children.
Based on gathering all this data of feedback, I created professional development training and coaching, which is mainly delivered face-to-face. It has been quite effective. However, programs have expressed the need for more scalable methods to reach more caregivers in a cost effective way. Technology based professional development is the solution for this. Another need communicated from the field is the need to present strategies in a simple, clear, and concise way. The initial content created for the technology based professional development follows these characteristics.
Based on this user feedback I have developed short professional development training models that are concise and practical full of strategies that caregivers can put into practice right away. I have also developed a protocol to continue gathering feedback from end-users.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
This idea comes from years of experience in the field where I have continuously seen the need for more support for children whose home language is not English. I myself grew up in the U.S. in a household where English was not the main language. It was quite a struggle to learn English and at the same time keep up with the academic needs as I entered elementary school. Many children are going through similar struggles and I am inspired to offer their caregivers tools that can be implemented early on to support their success in school and life.
Children are always at the heart of what I do professionally. Throughout my whole career my earnest desire has been to change the world by making an amazing, positive, and real impact in the lives of young children. My training and experiences have made me an expert in creating effective implementation programs that improve the quality of early childhood education.
I am passionate about seeing children learn and develop to their maximum potential. I know that what teachers do day-to-day in their classrooms can have full impact in children’s lives. That is why I have dedicated my life to increasing quality experiences in the early childhood classroom.
From leading large statewide strategy and implementation, large school districts, Head Start programs, non-for profit, and local level implementations, to the private sector, I have been a partner in helping my clients become successful in measuring and improving quality of early childhood education.
I myself started out teaching in early childhood settings, especially with children of diverse backgrounds and dual language learners. From there I went deep into conducting research and evaluation for the University of Virginia during a national Professional Development study. I have taught graduate and undergraduate courses at DePaul University in Chicago. At Teachstone I trained administrators, researchers, teachers and coaches all across the US and internationally. I also trained and supported coaches who worked extensively in improving teacher-child interactions. I helped organizations plan out multi-year implementations to improve teacher-child interactions.
At ChildrenFlow, I am driven by my mission of empowering young children's development
by improving the quality of early childhood education, especially for dual language learners, at scale. That is why I am so passionate in developing and implementing this new idea for scaling professional development to support caregivers of children who are learning both English and their home language.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)
Yes, I have partners and supporters! One of my key partners is Learning Genie (www.learning-genie.com). This partner has technological, programming and engineering expertise for online edtech products. They also have a large network of clients who can support the reach of early care providers. Other collaborations have emerged such as my mentor (venture capital expert) and other organizations such as Learning Genie (www.learning-genie.com) and the University of Virginia Department of Education and other Universities with whom we share a similar vision and mission.
As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)
When I first started my participation in the challenge I was in need of experts in the development, design, and programming of the online platform. I was also in the need of finding ways to get more funding to develop the platform. As a result of my participation in this prize, I have been able to get the expert advice and partnerships that I needed. Moving forward, I will put these new partnerships and strategies immediately into place in order to develop my idea at full scale.
Would you like mentoring support?
If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)
I had requested mentoring on best practices for online learning platforms and processes for getting funding. The mentor that was assigned to me gave me exactly this kind of support.
Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?
Yes, share my contact information
[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).
[Optional] Video: You are invited to submit a 30-60 second video that introduces you and/or your team and your idea.
An introduction of Childrenflow's idea for OpenIdeo: Improving the lives of at-risk children by enabling Dual Language Learners.
Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)
The support of my mentor was quite impactful and helped me further develop my concept. She helped me advance my idea to make it really scalable, to reach as many childcare providers as possible to be able to make the biggest impact possible.
We also explored funding sources and options to get the service fully developed.
During our sessions and communications, we focused on the following questions:
1. How do I fine-tune the solution? What other current EdTech initiatives are out there and how their platforms can help inform the further development in an early educational space?
2. How do I bring in the resources I need to take my solution to the next level?
We explored highly scalable platforms in the k-12 arena which I could get ideas to transfer to the 0-3 filed. We also explored resources around edTech incubators as well as other English language learner’s online resources. For funding, we discussed the process of applying for venture capital as well as other possible funding sources to support the development, launch, and implementation of the platform.
All of these ideas and suggestions helped me take my idea at a deeper level keeping making it as scalable as possible a a priority. As a result from that work together, I am certain that fully developing and implementing this service will soon become a reality. Young children need their caregivers to have these skills As Soon As Possible!