Six months ago, Bold Goals Education introduced the Expanding Pre-K Access project led by our Early Learning Action Network. The project’s goal is to create a support system that helps more childcare centers successfully complete applications for Alabama’s First Class Pre-K funding and improves the quality of childcare in the process. During this pilot year, we have been focusing on childcare centers in Jefferson County.
On March 17th, after months of workshops, site visits and connecting to resources, two community-based childcare centers submitted strong applications for First Class Pre-K funding. One of the best parts of this process has been the side-by-side work of our network partners such as Childcare Resources, Alabama Public Television and United Way’s Success By 6. These organizations have been closely aligned and working in concert to help the childcare centers understand the applications, develop budgets and curriculum plans and enhance the overall quality of the experience for young learners at their centers.
The childcare centers are now patiently waiting for the announcement of grant awards in late spring/early summer. Until then, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health is conducting an evaluation on the impact of the Early Learning Action Network’s pilot project, funded by a United Way of Central Alabama Advancement Fund grant. The report will allow us to improve our effectiveness and reach even more centers in the future. It will also help us advocate for best practices in supporting childcare centers statewide.
Ultimately, we want every child in Central Alabama to have access to First Class Pre-K. It will take all of us working together to meet that goal and maintain the diverse delivery system of childcare within our state.