What is Educare?
Educare is a state-of-the-art, full-day, year-round school that serves at-risk children and their families from birth to five years. Using the highest quality programming Educare prevents the achievement gap from taking root in the early years. Central to Educare’s mission is family involvement that strengthens parents’ abilities to serve as champions for their child’s learning from infancy through their primary and secondary school education. The Educare model draws on a unique blend of private and public dollars, including child care, Early Head Start, Head Start, and state funding streams. Educare maintains rigorous teacher requirements and emphasizes ongoing professional development all while preserving small class sizes. Finally, Educare schools serve as a policy lever for broader change, inspiring high-quality programs throughout the community, more effective public policies within each state, and a comprehensive approach to the first five years of life and learning.
Early Learning Matters
Who does Educare serve?
Educare serves children and their families from before they are born until five years of age. Educare facilities are located in high-risk neighborhoods, serving low-income families.
Educare Silicon Valley will initially serve 150 (scaling to 200 in three years) children and their families. The site for Educare Silicon Valley will be located on the campus of Santee Elementary School. The Santee neighborhood is one of the most dangerous and impacted communities in the United States. Forty-six percent of Santee residents live below 185% of the federal poverty line (compared to 6% of all San Jose residents). Because of the high cost of living in Silicon Valley, rent in Santee averages $1,113, only slightly lower than average in San Jose ($1,233). The average household in Santee has 5.3 people living under one roof, compared to the average of 3.2 in San Jose. Population density in the Santee neighborhood is 22,725 people per square mile, four times greater than San Jose and nearly 50% more dense than San Francisco. 86% of Santee students receive free or reduced lunch and 75% of all students are English language learners. The most recent school report card for Santee Elementary School (located on the same site as the proposed Educare facility) showed that it performed in the bottom 10% of all schools statewide in terms of academic achievement.
What does Educare provide?
A partnership to Create a Birth-to-Five Program - Each Educare school is a private-public partnership that builds on the best that existing programs like Early Head Start, Head Start, child care, and state-preschool have to offer in order to help disadvantaged children grow up safe, healthy, eager to learn, and better prepared for school.
A place to serve as a beacon of hope – There is a critical shortage of quality early care and education programs for poor children. Each Educare facility wraps its high-quality programming into a professionally designed facility intended to rival the quality of corporate child care centers. This inspires families, policy makers, business leaders and others to see that children in poverty have value and that creating effective programming and resources for them is a worthy investment.
A program to Prepare At-Risk Children for School – For a child to have a good experience in school they must first have the early language and literacy skills, as well as the social-emotional-behavioral skills, that lay the groundwork for academic success: self confidence, a sense of curiosity, impulse control, empathy, the ability to engage with other students and teachers, hopefulness, and the ability to prevent and resist social pressure and violence. We are not born with those abilities — they must be developed through early experiences and loving, trusting relationships.
Children and families from low-income homes often face unique barriers in developing these foundations for success. Educare’s program model is specifically designed to help at-risk children and their families overcome such barriers so that children get what they need to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and do not start so far behind their more advantaged peers.
A platform for Policy Change – While science tells us what we need to do to promote school readiness among children in poverty, public policies and funding priorities often lag behind. Educare schools are helping to strengthen public investments in high-quality, research-based programs.
Educare serves as a platform for policy change, offering a tangible way to show policy makers and other opinion leaders the kind of early learning environment all children deserve and that we specifically must make available to children at risk for school failure. Educare shows compelling evidence of what can happen when you raise quality standards across birth-to-five programs and push for policy and systems changes to ensure that public dollars are targeted to strategies that offer the highest return on investment.
Why is Educare a successful model?
Studies show that 1) the achievement gap for low-income children becomes apparent as early as age 18 months and 2) early language, vocabulary, literacy skills, social-emotional development and school-readiness indicators are powerful predictors for later success in school and life.
We know that 85 – 90% of brain development happens before the age of 5.Yet despite this growing body of scientific evidence, our society’s current investment in children’s education and care is lowest during the critical early years when brain growth and development are occurring most rapidly. Comprehensive and effective learning programs for young children and their low-income parents remain scarce— particularly for babies and toddlers. Educare was developed to address these needs and to begin to narrow the achievement gap for children in poverty.
Educare national data
One of the core principals of Educare is constant evaluation on the effectiveness of the program. Educare students enrolled in the program for three to five years start kindergarten ahead of the national average on a kindergarten scholastic readiness scale. The first Educare cohort from 2000 is still outscoring their peers as fourth graders. Studies on classroom quality (which includes interactions between staff and children, interactions between children and other children, and the quality of resources available) have found that Educare sites set the standard for quality.
How does Educare serve parents and the community?
The full day, full year aspect of Educare affords working parents the opportunity to be fully employed. Educare requires and supports parents who aren’t employed to find jobs, get job training, and/or increase their own educational opportunities so that they can champion their child’s educational future. By closing the achievement gap and supporting parents’ efforts to improve their own job and career prospects, Educare supports the current needs of the communities it serves while fortifying the future of these communities.
Educare as a policy lever
Each Educare Center serves as a platform for policy change nationally as part of a broad network and also locally as a model for quality early childhood educational programming. Some examples of how Educare centers have inspired policy change include:
- In Illinois, Educare of Chicago helped lead to significant expansions in early education funding from birth through age five.
- In Nebraska, Educare of Omaha inspired the creation of a new $60 million Nebraska Endowment, a public-private partnership supporting the early care and education of very young children.
- In Oklahoma, Educare efforts resulted in the creation of the $25 million state pilot, a public-private partnership supporting high-quality educational services for children from birth through age three.
Closing the achievement gap
The Achievement gap is a moral and economic problem. The effect of the achievement gap on the economy, both locally and nationally, is stunning. While measuring the economic effects of the achievement gap is an imperfect science, the consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimated that if in the 15 years after the 1983 report ”A Nation at Risk‖ America had lifted student achievement to internationally competitive benchmarks, we would be reaping significant rewards. Closing the ―international achievement gap‖ would increase US GDP between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion annually. Closing the ―racial achievement gap‖ would generate between $310 billion and $525 billion higher GDP annually. Closing the ―income achievement gap‖ between families who make less than $25,000 and those that make more than $25,000 per year, would increase GDP between $400 billion to $670 billion annually. Additionally, higher student achievement has been directly linked to better health, higher rates of civic engagement, and lower rates of incarceration and poverty.
Compelling Arguments for Pre-K
According to a recent study by the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, students who have attended a pre-K program are 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school; 44 percent less likely to repeat a grade; 41 percent less likely to require special education services; and in general tend to score higher on standardized tests than their peers who did not attend pre-K. These statistics prove that students who start school ahead, stay ahead. We need to give students in low-income communities a chance by providing them with the quality pre-K programs they need to thrive. Consistently, early childhood education investments prove to have one of the greatest returns of any public investment. Studies have shown that high quality early childhood education has a return on investment between three dollars for every dollar spent to seventeen dollars for every dollar spent in low income, high risk communities.