When Cleveland, Ohio, leaders wanted to increase access to and quality of preschool for 3- and 4 four-year-olds, ACS helped create a highly acclaimed model, build local support, and raise the profile of their work across the state and the nation.
How we did it: In a three-pronged approach, ACS planned, facilitated and helped to implement PRE4CLE’s communication and advocacy strategy, and developed and raised awareness of the organization.
- Facilitation. The ACS team led and facilitated nine separate working groups, with more than 60 participants, to delve deeply into aspects ranging from finance to teacher quality to transportation.
- Increased awareness. ACS developed and implemented a multi-faceted communication plan and a full suite of print and electronic materials, and secured media attention to showcase PRE4CLE.
- Advocacy. ACS created the guiding strategy for PRE4CLE’s local, state, and federal advocacy efforts, coordinated activities for all PRE4CLE partners and took the lead on direct lobbying to raise awareness, funding, and policy support.
Outcomes to date:
- More than 4,818 children are currently enrolled in high-quality preschool, which represents a 69% increase since PRE4CLE’s baseline year of 2013. PRE4CLE exceeded their goal that 40% of preschool-aged children are enrolled in high-quality preschool by June 2018.
- PRE4CLE has seen gains in kindergarten readiness. 50% of children who attended a PRE4CLE preschool are “On Track” on the language and literacy subscale of the Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Assessment in the fall of 2018 (from the baseline of 44.7%). 65% of children who attended a PRE4CLE preschool are in the Demonstrating or Approaching school readiness bands of performance on the Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, with at least 25% in the “Demonstrating School Readiness” band in the fall of 2018 (from the baseline of 60.2% in 2013).
- At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, 87% of available high-quality preschool seats in Cleveland were full, which exceeded PRE4CLE’s the goal of 85% capacity.
- PRE4CLE met and exceeded the goal to increase the number of Step Up To Quality highly-rated preschool programs by 30% between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018.
- 79% of PRE4CLE providers are high-quality and meet additional standards above and beyond what Step Up to Quality requires.
- PRE4CLE worked with Cuyahoga County and private philanthropic and business leaders to advocate for and secure a $22.8 million public investment in Universal Pre-K, Cuyahoga County’s high-quality preschool model, which has shown to produce great results for Cleveland’s children.
- ACS helped to position PRE4CLE as a model for preschool expansion and a go-to resource for policymakers.
- ACS received the MarCom Platinum Award for PRE4CLE’S two-year strategic communication plan; selected from a field of 6,000 entries from 34 countries.
- Garnered extensive media coverage in local, state, and national outlets including the following recent coverage:
- News Channel 5 (local ABC): Cleveland PRE4CLE program aims to get more kids into affordable, high-quality preschool
- Cleveland Plain Dealer: Cleveland PRE4CLE program aims to get more kids into affordable, high-quality preschool
- Crain’s Cleveland Business: High-quality preschool seats on the rise, says PRE4CLE annual report
- The Sound of Ideas (local NPR): PRE4CLE Quality Report
- Cleveland.com: There’s a compelling reason to spend more on quality preschool in Cuyahoga County
- Cleveland.com: Cleveland gains “high quality” preschool seats, still has many fewer seats than kids
- News Channel 5 (local ABC): More preschool kids in Cleveland are ready for kindergarten than in previous years, study says
- Cleveland.com: Cuyahoga County surpasses pre-K goal: more than 2,600 new spots available
- FreshWater Cleveland: Step by ‘step:’ How PRE4CLE is helping local preschools ramp up kindergarten readiness
- FreshWater Cleveland: PRE4CLE’s report shows kindergarten readiness is on the rise
- FreshWater Cleveland: PRE4CLE and Cuyahoga County are on a mission to make Universal Pre-K truly universal
- Cleveland.com: State elections will have an impact on our children
- Ideastream: Early education in the DeWine administration
- PRE4CLE preserved Ohio’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (which was recommended for elimination).
- PRE4CLE preserved Ohio’s three existing teaching licensure “bands” (which was recommended for elimination).
- During the 2018 election, PRE4CLE was able to provide the final two gubernatorial campaigns feedback/edits and content for campaign briefing documents and policy priorities, and a framework for early learning, setting the stage to be a resource for whomever will be Ohio’s next Governor and building them as a champion for early learning. As a result of this groundwork, PRE4CLE has a strong relationship and is able to influence and support the executive branch in their efforts for Ohio’s youngest children.
- Proactive advocacy work yielded quick changes in the executive branch. The day after he was elected, Governor DeWine announced a new position and named the director of children’s initiatives, which is the same individual PRE4CLE engaged with during the previous year on his campaign.
- On January 14, 2019, Governor DeWine created the Children’s Initiative by executive order to elevate the importance of children’s programming in Ohio and drive improvements within the many state programs that serve children.
- Ohio fixed the “38 county issue” which, because of a formula error, placed providers from 38 counties in the incorrect reimbursement band and denied them the market rate increase that their peers from other counties received.
- Ohio’s three-licensure band structure, language was clarified to ensure content exams are required for teachers when being placed in a grade outside of their licensure band and that this placement is temporary, and legislative language was added to clarify the intention to include preschool licensure in any band.
- PRE4CLE organized and conducted a provider focus group on compensation with 14 providers from 10 centers and a separate educator focus group with nine educators from seven centers, ultimately helping to inform PRE4CLE’s internal discussions related to sustainable funding for a key component of the PRE4CLE plan – quality educators and quality providers.
ACS' limited client list allowed them to focus on our policy priorities and maintain the daily contact necessary in a fast-paced political process.”