“The ultimate goal of a stronger, more seamless care and education continuum is to initiate and sustain a strong foundation for future success by providing effective learning opportunities across the infant-toddler years, preschool ages, and early grades in all settings.” (National Research Council, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation).
“The broader lesson of our analysis is that social mobility should be tackled at a local level by improving childhood environments.” (Chetty and Hendron, The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility)
The United States is on the cusp of making a historic investment in early care and education (ECE). This investment comes at a moment in time when the pandemic has exposed the fragmented and siloed nature of our early childhood systems in both urban and rural communities. Widespread racial protests have launched a national reckoning with pervasive racial inequities. Also, during the past two years, an important development has been taking place in the ECE world that can help inform our response to these challenges. Twenty-eight states across the United States have been hard at work improving state and local ECE systems, supported by $275 million of Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B–5) funds. The aim of these efforts is to improve the quality of early childhood programs and services, including how programs and services work together in a coordinated fashion to best meet the needs of children and families. I suggest that state and local system-building efforts like those supported by PDG B–5 are essential to how we address learning loss in the aftermath of the pandemic, and how, as we expand access to ECE programs, we rebuild better, more equitable systems of care and education.
“As Jacobson shared, First 10 initiatives can occur in two formats: First 10 School Hubs and First 10 Community Partnerships. First 10 School Hubs are organized around a single elementary school. Emphasis is placed on play-based, developmentally appropriate learning, and transitions from families, to child care and pre-K programs, through the elementary grades. Comprehensive services and supports are provided to families in their local school facilities, community centers, and homes.
First 10 School Hubs purposefully engage families in the neighborhood with children from newborns through the early years. Many host play-and-learn or parent-child interaction groups to foster a dialogue around strategies that help children develop and learn, and provide resources that caretakers can practice at home. The Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan in Metro Omaha includes a School as Hub component, where a full-time home visitor and family facilitator conduct home visits and hold monthly parent-child interaction groups. Home visiting staff and family facilitators have fifteen families in their caseload at once, allowing them to build deep, trusting relationships over time.
The second format, First 10 Community Partnerships, unify a wide network of regional or district-wide schools, service providers, and families, into a cohesive system. For example, Cambridge Massachusetts’ Birth-3rd Grade Partnerships are bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to improve outcomes for children. …
To sustain and expand programming, Jacobson advises that states play a larger role by increasing investments and implementing policies that allow First 10 Schools and Communities to thrive, as Oregon has done. He recommends that states provide aligned standards and assessments across the early years and technical assistance to help staff with implementation. Pointing to the successes of the SUN Service System, Jacobson asserted, ‘I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Multnomah County is in the state of Oregon.’
Moving forward, Jacobson envisions a system synergizing First 10 Schools Hubs and First 10 Community Partnerships, a model that has not yet been implemented. As Jacobson summarized, ‘This convergent First 10 approach acknowledges a fundamental interdependence between schools, families, and communities. The success of each is integrally bound up with the success of others.'”
For a helpful introduction to the First 10 study, see Eye on Early Education’s review, Addressing the Gaps in Children’s First 10 Years. Eye on Early Educationis the blog of Massachusetts’ early childhood advocacy organization, Strategies for Children.With its Massachusetts audience in mind, this post highlights examples of First 10 work in Boston, Cambridge, and Lowell. The First 10 study also includes examples from California, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oregon.
This study examines First 10 Schools and Communities—coordinated efforts taking place around the country to improve teaching, learning, and care during the first decade of children’s lives.
First 10 Schools and Communities bring together school districts, elementary schools, and early childhood programs to improve the quality of education and care for young children and their families. They work to improve teaching and learning, deepen partnerships with families, and provide comprehensive services for children and families.
The Early and Elementary Education Policy unit at New America is hosting a panel event on the release of my new study, “All Children Learn and Thrive: Building First 10 Schools and Communities.” The live-streamed event will take place in Washington, DC on April 30.
Laura Bornfreund of New America is organizing the event and will introduce the panel, which will be moderated by Christina Samuels of Education Week. Deborah Stipek (Stanford University) and Kwesi Rollins (Institute for Education Leadership) will provide expert commentary on the study. Three leaders from communities described in the report will share their experiences implementing innovative initiatives to improve teaching, learning, and care throughout the first decade of children’s lives:
Youth and Families Services Division, SUN Service System, Multnomah County, Oregon
Cambridge Birth–3rd Grade Partnership, Cambridge Public Schools, Massachusetts
Criselda Lopez Anderson
Buffett Early Childhood Institute, Omaha, Nebraska
The P-3 Learning Hub is changing its name. We are now called First 10.
For the past two years I have been working on a study funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation. The study investigates community initiatives that combine improving teaching and learning in the early grades with strong family partnerships and comprehensive services—all underpinned by a deep commitment to educational equity. The study provided a great opportunity to talk with community leaders in 18 communities throughout the country and conduct site visits to six of them. The innovative work these communities are doing is inspiring.
My experience learning about these communities has convinced me that we need a new name for this powerful combination of strategies. Further, the name needs to communicate the importance of collaboration between school districts, elementary schools, and other early childhood organizations and programs. As I explain here, I follow Arthur Reynolds and Judy Temple in defining early childhood as roughly the first decade of life, and with this in mind I call these important community initiatives First 10 Schools and Communities.
The report includes 7 key findings regarding First 10 initiatives. Informed by the experiences of the communities I profile in the study, I propose a new theory of action that outlines the roles that First 10 Schools and Communities can play to improve teaching, learning, and care in the first decade of children’s lives.
Moving forward, this website and the related research and technical assistance projects my colleagues and I do will focus on supporting First 10 initiatives. (And by the way, the url you have been using will continue to work, but our primary domain is now first10.org.)
Last week I posted Thomas Friedman’s article about civic renewal in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On Sunday Lancaster’s newspaper published an article about the county’s new P-3 initiative (which I’ve been supporting). Reporter Jeff Hawkes does a nice job using local examples to introduce P-3 improvement. See in particular:
How Hawkes follows a family receiving home visiting services to discuss the importance of P-3.
The important roles played by the United Way and the Community Action Partnership (CAP) as intermediary/backbone organizations.
How Jill Koser, a former elementary school principal and the current head of education and child development at the CAP, is able to use her experience to help bridge early childhood and elementary school education.
The connection between P-3 and 2 Generation programs as Anna Rodriguez participates in Parents as Teachers and a GED program.