Program: Help is on its way!

Reducing or eliminating the pre-school educational gap for children of struggling single-parent families.

Preschool or early education is increasingly being recognized as an integral part of efforts to ensure that all children enter school ready to learn and as a way to help close the achievement gaps that exist at the time children enter kindergarten. Studies indicate that children’s early education is critical to their development and future success. By the time some children reach kindergarten, children without early education are already far behind their peers in skills and measures of school readiness. Preschool education is increasingly being recognized as an integral part of efforts to ensure that all children enter school ready to learn and as a way to help close the achievement gaps that exist at the time children enter kindergarten.

These educational gaps tend to be more difficult and costly to compensate for as children advance through elementary, middle, and high school. Quality early care and education has emerged as a necessary element to promote school readiness and close achievement gaps in elementary school and beyond.

Early childhood education is concerned with the learning experiences of children below the age when compulsory schooling begins (usually age five or six). In terms of organized educational programs, it generally encompasses kindergartens (enrolling mainly five-year-olds) and pre-kindergartens and preschools aimed at children starting at about age three.

Early Education Benefits are not available to Struggling Single Parent Family Children.

Quite often early care and education can cost more than a single-parent earns. In such cases, it cannot be done without assistance. Broken Promises “Help is on its way!” program is designed to do just that. You can make this possible by giving a donation to our “Help is on its way!” program, you will be saving children’s futures and helping to make them more successful in life.

To qualify to receive Broken Promises assistance, struggling single-parents will need to show a history of employment but not earning a living wage (verified by outside party) and they cannot be receiving government aid which includes TANF (Welfare) or Food Snaps (SNAP). This does not include local or state sponsored programs. They have to complete an application request and be reviewed by our Early Education Scholarship Committee.

Professional Oversight:  Broken Promises is
Hands On and Involved

Our program is under the oversight of professional members of Broken Promises’ Childcare and Early Education Advisory Group headed up by Eileen Ward. We have over thirty individuals and learning centers as part of our Advisory Group. It should be noted that all of these individuals and volunteers live and work in the local community of those receiving assistance.

Eileen has extensive continuing education in child development, early childhood education, inclusion of children with disabilities and non-profit management. She has also been involved on local and regional advisory councils, task forces and with public and private organizations dedicated to the care and education of all young children, their families and teachers. She served on the Advisory Board of the Fairfield University Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions from 2010-2013. In February 2010, Eileen was appointed to the Connecticut Early Childhood Education Cabinet. She served on the Leadership Team of the Cabinet where she co-chaired the workgroup that developed “A Quality Rating and Improvement System for Connecticut”. The Cabinet advises the Governor and Legislature on school readiness issues.

Program Structure and Process

Our “Help is on its way!” program initially focuses on early education (Pre-K) by providing funding assistance, center evaluation, program evaluation, and progress oversight.   Center evaluation is dependent upon center accreditation through NAEYC and QRIS once implemented.  Only accredited institutions will be considered.  Beyond that, we visit each center to ensure these standards are met and to create an accurate description of the facility, its approach and standards before accepting it in our database of approved or participating establishments.

This process provides an evaluation of participating early education centers, establishes tracking of child’s progress and provides the basis of family guidance throughout the process. It should be noted that our additional support services are as important as assistance in funding. The ongoing review process allows Broken Promises the opportunity to assist the centers by highlighting development issues and suggestions for solution.

Center Review

Until the CT QRIS is in place, we will insist on the same quality standards required of School Readiness Programs, that is, NAEYC Accreditation.

Broken Promises visits each center to ensure these standards are met and to create an accurate description of the facility, its approach, description and standards before accepting it in our online database of approved or participating establishments.

Child Progress Management and Evaluation

Early care and education provides “school readiness” in the children enrolled in these programs. They should encompass the tools children should possess in order to be able to take advantage of the additional learning opportunities that await them when they enter the school system.

Consistent with the CT Early Learning and Development Standards (CTELDS), we expect programs to evaluate and measure all areas of development that contribute to a child’s readiness to learn in a more structured school environment.  These include:

  • Cognition
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development and Health
  • Language and Literacy
  • Creative Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Family Guidance

Parents are recognized as their children’s first teachers and are an integral part of their children’s early education experiences.

Children are learning appropriate social behavior, and it takes time and practice to develop emotional regulation and pro-social dispositions. Families and teachers guide children to learn these important skills.

A child’s parent will be informed of their progress in this regard. We hope to engage families with consideration for their family and cultural values.

“Help is on its way!” Program Evaluation

Our “Help is on its way!” program for the children of struggling single-parent families has several key performance factors to evaluate our program success.

A major interest of stakeholders is whether early education programs (Pre-K)  are effective in enhancing young children’s development and improving kindergarten-readiness levels, one common focus of these monitoring policies is the documentation of children’s learning outcomes

The key performance indicators will help determine success in the following areas.  Data on what children are learning in early education can serve as an important component of program accountability and quality improvement efforts.

There are three main approaches, which Broken Promises will use to assess our children’s learning outcomes, and, in turn, inform program-monitoring decisions:

  • Direct Assessments
  • Observation Checklists and Scales
  • Samples of Children’s Work

Key Performance Indicators:

  • Personal Health and Safety Skills
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Language Development
  • Communication Skills Cognitive Development/Intellectual Abilities
  • Approaches to Learning
  • Motor Development

Demographics

Census Data indicates that 35% of all children today are living with a single parent, up from just 9% in 1960, and 19% in 1980. The vast majority of these families – more than 80 percent – are headed by women.  Our target households exist in every racial and ethnic group in Connecticut.

Our target families are struggling single-parent families who are not receiving federal assistance, whose households have earnings above the Federal Poverty Level but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Those who are employed but not earning a living wage.  We estimate that there are 7,500 families in this category in Fairfield County.

According to United Way ALICE report, in total, 474,445 households in Connecticut fully 35 percent are struggling to support themselves.  ALICE households are working households; they hold jobs and provide services that are vital to the Connecticut economy in a variety of positions such as retail salespeople, customer service representatives, laborers and movers, and personal care aides. The core issue is that these jobs do not pay enough to afford the basics of housing, childcare, food, health care, and transportation.  These households cannot afford the basic necessities.  Both the family structure and the children are at risk.