Advocacy & Communication Solutions client, PRE4CLE, recently celebrated their five-year anniversary and was recognized in The Hechinger Report for their efforts to transform preschool in Cleveland, Ohio.
Five years ago, only 25 percent of Cleveland’s 3 to 5-year-olds were enrolled in high-quality preschool, as defined by the state’s quality rating system. In several neighborhoods, there were virtually no high-quality options. This was having an impact on kindergarten readiness: Less than 20 percent of students entering Cleveland Metropolitan School District were testing as fully prepared to start school.
With a strategy developed in partnership with ACS, a committed and focused group of community leaders across various sectors came together to form PRE4CLE in 2013 Since then the results have been significant:
- 65% of PRE4CLE students test as approaching/demonstrating readiness for kindergarten
- 32% increase inthe number of high-quality preschool programs
- 72% increase in enrollment in high quality programs
- Increase of over 2,000 children enrolled in all programs (2,857 – 4,903 children)
Here are some of the key strategies PRE4CLE officials say have been the most effective in achieving these results:
- Helping good centers grow: PRE4CLE was able to rapidly open up new seats by providing grants of up to $30,000 to centers that were already high-quality to establish new classrooms. The grants helped with some of the up-front costs of light renovations, classroom supplies, and teacher salaries for the new classrooms.
- Helping weaker centers get better: This year, 27 child care centers and 24 family child care homes are working with PRE4CLE to improve. Program officials have visited each center, determined what is standing in the way of these centers improving in quality, and are providing tailored intensive professional development, technical assistance, and materials as needed. For example, PRE4CLE helped one Cleveland based Childcare Center go from a 2 star rating to a 5 star rating in just 90 days.
- Educating families: The initiative hosts open houses, sets up tables at community events, and has published advertisements across television, radio and social media outlets to help families learn about available high-quality seats in their neighborhoods. They also developed a scholarship calculator to help families quickly find out which preschool programs they are eligible for based on income and then locate those programs nearby.
- Educating officials: PRE4CLE has prioritized advocacy at all levels of the government. By doing so, they have secured $57 million in new state funding for local early learning programs in Cleveland.
You can read more about PRE4CLE’s work in their five-year report.
ACS helped draft and launch the plan in 2014 to bring PRE4CLE to life. Since that time, ACS continues to provide advocacy, strategic communication, and media outreach services to PRE4CLE. The investment is already paying dividends, as evidenced in PRE4CLE 2018 annual report.