This Early Care Network Shows Improved School Readiness Scores
The Strong Minds Network, launched by Children’s Services Council in 2015, uses research and data to increase the quality of early care and education through supports and resources offered to the early learning community, children and their families. This system does much to strengthen the transition from preschool to kindergarten.
Strong Minds focuses on resources that provide quality early care and education experiences for children and families. A five-year evaluation, completed in 2019 and based on the state’s Kindergarten Readiness Screener STAR Early Literacy Assessment, shows children in the Strong Minds Network scored 16.3 points higher than comparable children not in the network, and children in the Network were 40 percent more likely to be kindergarten ready than non-Strong Minds children. The evaluation also showed the annual growth in children’s GOLD Assessment improved greatly from 2014-15 to 2018-19 in each of seven GOLD measures such as language, cognition, literacy and social-emotional skills.
How does Strong Minds do it? By focusing on resources that support the child care provider’s ability to improve the quality of the learning environment and, in particular, the effectiveness of the teacher-child interactions. These supports to child care programs, leaders, practitioners and families help ensure children receive high-quality care and effective teaching that will ultimately prepare children for kindergarten. Examples include tiered reimbursements to child care centers to encourage and build quality, salary supplements and professional development scholarships for practitioners, and assessments for both the children and the programs.
Tiered reimbursements have grown from $2.5 million to $4.8 million from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2018-2019 school year. Professional development scholarships grew from $332,000 to $513,000 in the same period, and staff salary supplements hover around $650,000. The number of sites using the GOLD child assessment grew from 54 to 173 in the same period, and the number of classrooms from 120 to 585. The Strong Minds Network uses Teaching Strategies GOLD for its observation-based assessment system for children from birth through kindergarten.
The annual Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) used in Florida to measure program effectiveness also shows Strong Minds practitioners have statistically significant improvement the longer they participate in the system. CLASS measures include classroom organization, and emotional and behavioral support.
About Healthy, Safe, Strong Stories
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County continues to serve local children and families with the same mission that’s motivated us since 1986: to keep our county’s children healthy, safe and strong. This #HealthySafeStrong series highlights some of the programs and services we provide that help our children succeed in school. This project is one example of our work to improve children’s literacy, for which CSC has been honored by the national Grade-Level Reading Campaign as a “Pacesetter” community. To contact Children’s Services Council, please click here.