Cambridge, MA awarded a contract to Early Childhood Associates and its partner, the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute (UMDI) to conduct a study of the existing mixed service delivery system of preschool programs serving children in Cambridge. This study seeks to provide an analysis of the feasibility and implications of various options for expanding access to high-quality affordable preschool and prepare population and demographic estimates for school-age children to assess the impact on space needs for the Cambridge Public Schools (CPS).
ECA and UMDI are adopting a comprehensive approach utilizing a range of qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies and analytic methods. Our work is predicated on two facts:
• That there is more to do with regards to mapping current supply and demand as we project demand into the future and
• That there is more to do with workforce development, assuring quality, access, and financing.
Successfully completing the scope of work requires research uncovering the current and projected population and associated cost and demand for services and space; getting a clearer picture of children served and not served by the system– and why; gaining more clarity on how existing programs in Cambridge are meeting quality standards; and coming up with an effective universal pre-K Model in Cambridge that not only works for CPS but embraces the assets of its current mixed service delivery system. The work also involves thinking through funding strategies to support investment, including a structure for supporting the workforce and building program infrastructure.
ECA has put together a team of experts to assist with coming up with possible models of high-quality affordable preschool programs for 4-year-olds. The team members led by Linda Warren, CEO of Early Childhood Associates are: Sherry Cleary, Executive Director of the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and the co-Chair of the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council; Sue Reed, Early Childhood Education Specialist, Maine Department of Education; and TeeAra Dias, Universal Pre-K Director in Boston MA.
Specifically, the Team will address the following tasks:
• Research and analyze the level of success of other cities in implementing mixed delivery universal programs for 4-year-olds that might provide insights for Cambridge
• Propose, analyze and evaluate at least three options (models) for providing affordable universal preschool for 4-year-olds who reside in Cambridge including potential enrollment, space requirements, cost structure, and administrative structure.
• Recommend two models of universal pre-K for 4-year-olds in a mixed service delivery system that would include programs run by community providers, programs run by the City of Cambridge’s Department of Human Services and a public preschool program for students who are 4 years old by September 1st in the year of enrollment. Each model needs to include space requirements, a proposal for fees and subsidies for families.
The work builds on the strategic directions and strategies outlined in the 2015 Recommendations of the Cambridge Early Childhood Task Force, Starting Early: Addressing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps in Cambridge www.cpsd.us/departments/office-of_elementary_education. ECA facilitated the development of this document.