Creating a Model System of High Quality Early Childhood Education in Wisconsin

The Early Care and Education 4 All Coalition will establish a replicable system for offering high quality, affordable early care and education to under-resourced children that can be scaled nationally.

THE CHALLENGE

High-quality early education experiences are critical for young children’s development and lifelong success. But there are multiple barriers to providing these opportunities to all children.

58% of Black and 55% of Latinx families in Dane County live and work in poverty

In fact, the median family income for Black and Latinx families in Dane County in 2019 was $38,795 and $53,202 respectively, compared to $106,255 among White families. The median tuition rates charged for infant care in Dane County at an accredited group child care center in 2019 was $17,950. For 3-year-olds it was $13,375. These median rates increased to $19,450 for infants and $15,000 for 3-year-olds, which make the cost of care prohibitively expensive for under-resourced families.

Black early educators earn $0.78 less per hour

With a workforce that is 40% people of color, this non-system hits Black and Latinx educators particularly hard economically.  Despite educational attainment, Black early educators working in center-based care on average earn $.78 less per hour than their White peers and 75% of Black home based educators earn less than the national median income.

Economic vitality of Early Care and Education (ECE) is fragile

... with meager pay and no benefits for most teachers, and high staff turnover and small profit margins for child care sites.  Unlike reforms like charters or vouchers in K-12 education, there is no system to reform; it does not exist.  Furthermore, there are not enough seats to make access a possibility, even if families had funding to pay.

Demand outpaces supply

These barriers are devastating for under-resourced families, who struggle to find care, even with subsidies provided by the government.

By age 3, children from the most disadvantaged families have heard 30 million fewer words than children of professional parents

A 30-million-word deficit is hard to make up. If Black and Latinx children are not ready to succeed in kindergarten, they are half as likely to finish middle school with strong academic and social skills.

Wisconsin is failing to prepare children of color for success in the 21st Century

These complex problems intersect to block educational opportunities for young children in a time when their care and learning will have the greatest impact on their development. The racialization of this problem can be seen in Wisconsin where the Black-White achievement gap is the largest in the nation.

Only 12% of Black and 16.7% of Latinx students read at grade level in local public elementary schools

In spring 2019, only 12% of Black and 16.7% of Latinx students attending elementary schools in Dane County's Madison Metropolitan School District (the state’s second largest public school system), and 12.8% and 25.0% respectively attending public schools statewide, were reading at or above grade level, compared to 60.7% of White students in Madison and 48.2% of White students statewide. (which are still much too low). (Source: Wisconsin Forward Assessment)

We believe this reflects an opportunity gap that could be addressed, in part, by reducing barriers to accessing high-quality EarlyCare and Education Centers (ECECs) among under-resourced families of color in Dane County, and eventually, across Wisconsin and nationally for all families of young children, birth to age 5.

BUILDING STRONG SUPPORT FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION


In 2014, One City Schools began educating and organizing individuals and communities in our state to support an expansion of high quality early childhood education opportunities for children, birth to age 5. In 2016, we asked Black men residing in Dane County, to join us at our state capitol, to show their support for early childhood education and educating our children.

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OUR SOLUTION

Specifically, the ECE4All Coalition will accomplish the following objectives:

Educational Quality Grants

We will provide grants, technical assistance and services to eligible, participating group and family child care centers to help them achieve and sustain a high-quality rating with our state’s child care rating system, better engage and support families, recruit/train teachers, and work towards achieving early childhood accreditation.

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Staffing Grants

In 2019, the median rate of pay for an early childhood educator in Dane County was $13 per hour. Local research has determined that a wage of $18 per hour, minimum, is needed to attract and retain early childhood educators.We will provide salary enhancement grants for 100 educators, annually, at participating ECE centers to support recruitment and retention.

Tuition Payments

We will provide tuition payments annually to 500 children from income-eligible families at a maximum of $5,000 per child. We derived this amount from the size of gap-filling tuition scholarships One City provides to under-resourced families at its preschool.

Project Evaluation

The University of Wisconsin–Madison will evaluate and report on the structure, implementation and impact of the initiative on children, families, educators, staff and other stakeholders.

OUR PATH TO IMPACT

One City Schools’ mission is to seed a new model of public education that ensures young children are on track to succeed in a college or career preparatory program from birth through high school graduation.

The Journey so far

To execute our mission, in 2015, we opened our preschool, which now serves 66 children, ages 2 to 5. In 2018, 89% of the children that graduated from our 4K program tested ready for kindergarten, as did 92% in 2019 and 95% in 2020. More than 80% are children of color, and more than 50% qualify for state subsidies for under-resourced families.

Our planned Path

ECE4All Coalition will produce short, intermediate and long-term results by providing:

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    Educational quality grants that increase the supply of high-quality ECE centers serving under-resourced families of color in Dane County.
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    Staffing grants to participating schools so they can hire/sustain a high-quality teaching and workforce.
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    Tuition payments that enable eligible families to enroll their children in participating ECEs.
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    Completing a comprehensive evaluation of our new ECE system, its impact on our stakeholders  and our ability to influence policy change.

These results, combined with our intense emphasis on parent engagement and family support, hiring talented educators and providing living wages and benefits, and the work, expertise, commitment and influence of our partners, have informed the design of our proposed initiative.

Opportunities for structural changes

Racial Equity and Racial Healing

Since its founding in 2014, One City Schools’ central purpose has been to eliminate racial disparities in education (and future life outcomes) for children of color. Its staff, Board, families and subcontractors reflect the diversity of the community it serves: 85% of OneCity’s students are children of color and more than 50% reside in under-resourced households. Its schools are located in and near communities of color, and its catalytic work draws significant attention, resources and opportunities to education and communities of color in Dane County: more than $11 million in private philanthropy (90% from local giving) and $16 million overall since 2014.

One City’s name addresses WKKF’s commitments. We bring together people and institutions from all backgrounds to seed and expand high quality educational opportunities for children. We’ve demonstrated that powerful progress can be achieved, and generational inequity and challenges can be overcome, when citizens and institutions invest their time, talents and resources to impact racial equity and healing, together. The ECE4ALL Coalition, and this project, is a reflection and extension of this commitment. Participating ECE centers will complete a Culturally Relevant Center certification program that ECE4ALL will create and must enroll and retain income-eligible families.

Opportunities and Accomodations

Through our existing local Shared Services Network for ECE centers, wraparound support for children and families, and resource organizations and service providers that support group and family-based ECE centers in Dane County, we will ensure that children with disabilities receive the appropriate referrals, assessments, services and support that they, their families and centers need to facilitate their learning and success. Furthermore, we will ensure that every participating ECE center and organization participating in this initiative is an equal opportunity employer, makes reasonable accommodations for adults with disabilities, and has access and training to implement and utilize the Ages and StagesQuestionnaire (ASQ) that provides reliable, accurate developmental and social-emotional screening for children between birth and age 6. Additionally, our website and print information will be accessible to people with disabilities, using a system such asUserWay.org, the world’s leader in ADA and WCAG website technology.

Community Engagement

Beyond operating schools, One City is known in our community as a catalyst for creating opportunities for children and positive change in education. In developing ECE4All, ween listed the support and partnership of 23 individual and institutional leaders in early childhood education, public engagement and policy, higher education, health systems, and business and philanthropy to inform and design the effort. We also informed other key local stakeholders about the plan we have submitted, and we have already begun building support among additional ECE providers, professional support organizations and teacher education institutions, technical assistance providers, and City of Madison and Dane County leaders. Whether we are named a finalist or not, we will expand the diversity and number of stakeholders involved in planning and further developing our effort. We will include parents who represent the diversity of our target demographic in this effort, along with students from local colleges and universities.

Innovation

Wisconsin ranks as the worst state for racial inequalities in the USA, including education outcomes. This gap is deep and enduring, almost ensuring that Black and Latinx students in our state cannot reach their potential. The ECE4All project will change this. Our multi-sector coalition will establish a groundbreaking “ECE system” in Dane County, Wisconsin where annually 500 children from under-resourced families will have access to high-quality ECE at approved centers that meet “quality” criteria. We will also help ECE centers attract, develop and retain diverse, effective early educators with staff salary grants and provide tuition payments for eligible children.

We are convinced that Dane County, Wisconsin is the perfect laboratory for this kind of innovation to root out racial inequities in ECE. Our community-informed project is a two-generation solution that leverages an impressive set of resources and partnerships to address multigenerational inequities through increasing access to high-quality ECE.

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PROJECTED IMPACT

Defining Success

A team organized by the internationally respected Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and with expertise in both rigorous evaluation methodology and early childhood education, will apply a mixed-methods approach to evaluate the impact of the proposed project.

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The evaluation will have a dedicated focus on sustainability and incorporating the perspectives of the families served through initial project design and continuous improvement.

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A mix of qualitative and quantitative data aligned to project’s goals and subgoals will be collected at regular intervals in order to inform both fidelity of implementation.

ECE System Established

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    Criteria for ECE centers to participate and evaluation tools are defined.
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    Project partners are solidified.
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    Scope of services, support and the needs of eligible families are identified.
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    Eligible ECE centers are approved to participate in the program.
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    Eligible families are informed about the program.
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    Better compensation and professional development is offered to ECE educators.
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    ECE centers begin to stabilize and improve.

Data sources that will inform the evaluation will include a mix of quantitative and qualitative program data.

Early Success

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    Recruitment of diverse and effective ECE educators increases.
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    Childcare workforce stabilizes and quality improves.
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    Barriers to quality ECE centers diminish.
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    Eligible families apply for and receive tuition vouchers and enroll their children in participating ECE Centers.
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    The number of ECE sites and ages served continues to expand.
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    Children under 5 are developmentally ready for Kindergarten.

Depending on the mix of supply (e.g., child care seats available in existing and new ECE sites) and demand, we will make use, if possible, of a control group of families that express interest in the tuition vouchers but are not able to receive them.

Long-Term Success

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    Racial disparities in educational outcomes and opportunity gaps significantly decline.
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    A robust ECE sector flourishes.
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    Program success and increased advocacy influence statewide expansion.

We also anticipate having a mix of enrollment dosages (e.g, some children enrolled part-time, some full-time; some starting at younger ages and others later on) and ECEC types (e.g., 4K, group centers, family care) that we will utilize to draw conclusions about which types of offerings are both most effective and most conducive to sustainability and scaling up.

RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS

The total cost of our Early Care Education 4 All Project over 10 years will be approximately $37M

Including $20,794,780 in project operating expenses and $16,571,341 to provide 400 additional tuition payments to eligible children.

We will serve 500 children annually through this effort

We will secure remaining funding for the project through the following means:

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    Secure commitments from a minimum of four local companies, philanthropic organizations or individuals to provide $500,000 in tuition vouchers to a minimum of 100 children annually.
  • groups
    Secure commitments from a minimum of 5 institutional donors or individuals to give $50,000 annually to cover the additional operating costs annually.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Our Key Partners

One City Schools

One City Schools, Inc. was approved by the University of Wisconsin System, our public charter school authorizer, to expand our public school to serve children from 4K through 6th grade. We will continue adding grade levels to our Elementary School each year until we reach 6th grade, including adding third and fourth grade for the 2021-22 school year.

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Center for Research on Early Childhood Education

The Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (CRECE) works within WCER to promote equal opportunity for young children. CRECE engages in cross-disciplinary research, policy analyses, high-impact teacher education, researcher training and development, and direct engagement with the early childhood community.

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Wisconsin Center for Education Research

The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of the first and most productive education research centers in the world. It has assisted scholars and practitioners develop, submit, conduct and share grant-funded education research for more than 50 years.

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Collaborative Center
for Health Equity

The UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity connects partners from rural, urban, and tribal communities with university faculty, staff, and students to advance long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships in teaching, research, and service initiatives to improve health equity in underserved communities of Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin Early
Childhood Association

Quality early care and education is fundamental to creating a better world. WECA works to advance positive change for children by focusing on the professionals who provide child care for well over 70% of Wisconsin’s children.

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Community Coordinated
Child Care (4-C)"

Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C) is part of a network of accredited, non-profit Wisconsin Child Care Resource & Referral agencies providing advocacy and support services for child care in various counties. The agency strives to ensure that every child has access to high quality early care and education through integrated support and expertise.

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United Way of
Dane County (UWDC)

United Way of Dane County has been tackling Dane County’s toughest challenges for 98 years. With a mission to unite the community to achieve measurable results and change lives, we are committed to build a Dane County where everyone can succeed in school, work and life.

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Families and Schools
Together (FAST)

Families & Schools Together is a non-profit organization that exists to make a critical difference in the midst of these challenges by empowering parents, strengthening families, developing social networks, and supporting schools and communities so that children can thrive.  

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Our Leadership

The ECE4ALL Coalition is led by One City Schools, an organization whose staff leadership and Board of Directors reflects the diverse community it serves, and includes nationally respected, influential and experienced educators/leaders.

Kaleem Caire

One City Schools, Inc.

Kaleem Caire is founder and CEO of One City Schools, a preschool and public charter school serving children ages 2-second grade in Madison. Prior to that, Kaleem was President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and chair of the National Urban League’s Education Committee. Kaleem also held executive leadership positions with Fight For Children of Washington, DC, Black Alliance forEducational Options (BAEO), American Education Reform Council, Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.Kaleem holds a bachelor’s in education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Beth Graue, PhD

University of Wisconsin-Madison WCER/CRECE

Beth Graue is Sorenson Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Director of the Center for Research on Early Childhood Education at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Graue received her Ph.D. in Research and Evaluation Methodologies from the University of Colorado Boulder. A fellow of the American Educational Research Association, Graue has studied class size reduction implementation, teacher use of practices introduced in professional development, PreK policy enactment, and parent decision-making about PreK enrollment. Her current research is focused on developing strategies for teachers to implement educationally productive play.

Jody Bartnick

Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C)

Jody Bartnick is the Executive Director of Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C), a local child care resource and referral agency serving southern Wisconsin. Jody brings over 25 years of experience in the early care and education field and holds an MBA in finance. Jody’s work at 4-C aligns with the agency’s mission to ensure that all children have access to high-quality early care and education.

MEET THE TEAM

Who Make This Possible

Paula Drew

Paula Drew

Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network(WEESSN)

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Paula Drew

Paula Drew

Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network(WEESSN)

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Ruth Schmidt

Ruth Schmidt

Wisconsin Early Childhood Association

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Toni Riviera-Joachin

Toni Riviera-Joachin

Families & Schools Together, Inc.

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Jessica Tormey

Jessica Tormey

Wisconsin Idea Group, LLC.

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Amy Claessens

Amy Claessens

Center for Research on Early Childhood Education

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Courtney Bell

Courtney Bell

Wisconsin Center for Education Research

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Sheldon Ryan Hitchens

Sheldon Ryan Hitchens

2 Gen work of United Way of Dane County

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Hayley Chesnik

Hayley Chesnik

Community Impact Department at United Way of Dane County

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Joe Sensenbrenner

Joe Sensenbrenner

Rooted

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Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD

Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD

UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity

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Sarah Esmond, MS

Sarah Esmond, MS

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Kennan Wood

Kennan Wood

Wood Communications Group

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Bryce Pickett

Bryce Pickett

One City Schools

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Gail Wiseman

Gail Wiseman

One City Schools

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Simone Lawrence

Simone Lawrence

One City Schools

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Xena Zupan

Xena Zupan

One City Schools

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Kaleem Caire

One City Schools, Inc.

Kaleem Caire is founder and CEO of One City Schools, a preschool and public charter school serving children ages 2-second grade in Madison. Prior to that, Kaleem was President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and chair of the National Urban League’s Education Committee. Kaleem also held executive leadership positions with Fight For Children of Washington, DC, Black Alliance forEducational Options (BAEO), American Education Reform Council, Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.Kaleem holds a bachelor’s in education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.