A multimillion-dollar preschool and child-care center that education leaders say will help close achievement gaps between low-income and wealthier students is coming to California.

The center is part of a national network of independently run early education centers operated under an umbrella organization known as Educare. The Educare model calls for public-private partnerships to provide funding; professional development for center staff; full-day, year-round services for families; and a focus on research-based practices that help children learn through exploration and play.

An artist's rendering of the planned Silicon Valley Educare center in San Jose was displayed at the site of the planned construction next door to Santee Elementary School. Sept. 17, 2013 Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

An artist’s rendering of the planned Silicon Valley Educare center in San Jose. Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

“It’s taking all the research and making it real,” said John Porter, superintendent of the Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, where the new center will be located next to Santee Elementary School.

Research on early childhood education shows that year-round care from highly qualified teachers is crucial to academic success. Because publicly funded programs generally don’t have enough money to make that level of care a reality for low-income children, Educare centers — there are 18 others in the country — supplement public funding with privately raised funds.

The San Jose center will be the first Educare center in California. There is also one in development in Los Angeles, according to Educare’s website.

Nearly 200 students from infancy to age 5 who are enrolled in federally funded Head Start, state-funded preschool or a local child-care program for children of teen parents will be eligible to attend classes at the center when it opens next fall. The staff at these programs will also relocate to the new center and will begin receiving additional training this year and next year to make sure the San Jose center is meeting the Educare standards. The long-term vision includes a professional development institute where early child-care educators from around the state can take classes and observe model classrooms.

The national Educare model has made inroads in closing the achievement gap, according to an independent study of 1,800 children at 12 Educare centers conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Researchers found that children who enrolled in the centers before age 2 nearly caught up to their more affluent peers on measures of school readiness, such as vocabulary acquisition, by the time they entered kindergarten.

The vision is for the Silicon Valley center to act like a teaching hospital for early education, where educators from all over the state can come and learn best practices. There is also a training program in the works for local high school students interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education.

In San Jose, the list of local public and private funders committing to supplying money for the center includes: The Santa Clara County Department of Education, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, The Health Trust, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, First 5 Santa Clara County, the Franklin-McKinley School District and the East Side Union High School District. The nonprofit Educare Network also provides some funding.

The first step to opening the 35,000-square-foot San Jose center — meant to house 16 classrooms, outdoor learning space and vegetable gardens — is to finish raising the money needed to build it. The partnership has already raised $11 million and wants to raise $3 million more by the end of 2013.

Organizers hope the center will influence more than just the students, families and teachers who will spend time at the site. They hope it provides an example of how to provide quality care to low-income children.

“Policy makers have a hard time changing policy if they don’t see it,” said Dennis Cima of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy trade association that is leading the fundraising efforts. “They can now come to San Jose and see Educare in action and see what investing in high quality does for kindergarten readiness and for (longer term) student achievement.”

Lillian Mongeau covers early childhood education. Contact her or follow her @lrmongeau.


Filed under: Child Care, Early Learning, Featured, Head Start, Reporting & Analysis · Tags: , , , , , ,

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  1. Kitty says:

    Isn’t the child care industry in the lack of leadership situation precisely because a person can make more money in almost any other field of work? By continuing to focus on building training and skills for staff, aren’t we in fact, training them to leave the field? Is there an opportunity there we are not harnessing? Using our child care centers as social entrepreneurial centers to train (mostly low income women) in skills that will put them back into the work force in a better position later in their family’s life cycle?

    Anyone have experience with this? Thanks.

    Kitty, independent contract grantwriter in Kansas.

  2. XYZ says:

    How about a Planned Parenthood on site? Or nearby?

  3. I have a few questions about “supplement public funding with privately raised funds”:

    - who is doing the fundraising?
    - are the fundraisers paid or unpaid?
    - if they’re paid, who’s paying them?
    - are there fundraisers and private funds like this all across California? how about in small towns?
    - how deep a commitment are these private funders making to public education?
    - why is doing things way –

    asking an individual or a small group of individuals – paid or unpaid – to research private funding and fill out applications and build relationships with private donors and foundations, etc. and then continue to groom those relationships so that the funding is stable better than

    - better than this way -

    as a people, making the choice to put some of our money into a pot (this is called taxation through representation), and then deciding, through representational democracy, what to spend it on.

    - why is that first way “better”? or should that be “better for whom”?

    - where is this “subsidized by private donors” likely to work best? Weed? Eureka? Palm Springs? Greenfield? Salinas? or… let me guess…. someplace with a lot of tech money… the biggest and fastest growingest source of money in this state… like, say… San Jose?

    - is this tech money equally distributed around California?

    - if not, will Silicon Valley be happy to share their money with Soledad, which is not so very far from San Jose, or El Centro, which is? How about Bakersfield? Or Taft? Or Bellflower?

    I do and don’t agree with the following statement, “Policy makers have a hard time changing policy if they don’t see it.”

    When it comes to making new things, yes, it helps to have a model.

    But here’s the thing… we HAD a good thing. We HAD this really great educational system – great policy in action. And then we destroyed it.

    And I’m pretty sure Howard Jarvis and the rest of the folks who helped to destroy could “see” it while they were hitting it with an axe.

    Which reminds me of the Lottery. The Lottery – private “donors” – millions of them – which started up in 1985 was going to be this wonderful “fix” for California’s public education system – a system which was starting to feel the effect of Prop 13 which came in in 1978.

    Sigh. It’s not that I’m against communities working together – including private companies, foundations, etc. Working together is good!

    But there’s this underlying feeling in this and many other programs that we can “do it better” through relying on private funding.

    Why? Why is it better?

    And why is it necessary to do it with private funding?

    I believe Gov. Brown is trying to shift the momentum back to how it was prior to prop 13.

    I don’t agree with everything Brown does but I like the fact he is tryign to address inequality in California through publically funded public education. And I like the fact that he and Torlakson are standing up to Arne Duncan. I sometimes get the feeling that Brown is trying to make right the mistakes that happened on his first shift. Prop 13 happened under his watch. It wasn’t his idea and he was not for it but it happened while he was at the helm.

    On a slightly different but related note, about this bit from the article, “The vision is for the Silicon Valley center to act like a teaching hospital for early education, where educators from all over the state can come and learn best practices. There is also a training program in the works for local high school students interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education.”

    Teaching people how to care for and educate young children (any aged children, for that matter) – a good thing. Yes. Very.

    So why is Parent Education being de facto eliminated from the mission of Adult Education via the new Reginoal Consortia system?

    It’s cheap and effective. And again, we had many wonderful, well-used, effective examples of it – those “models” that we can see and emulate” – that were axed during the budget crisis of the past five years.

    And again, I’m sure everyone could “see” them as they were being axed.

    And why did we have the budget crisis? Because of a financial crisis.

    A PRIVATE financial crisis – primarily beginning on Wall Street with banking and other industries – who never really suffered the consequences of what they did.

    Lehman Brothers? Still in limbo.

    But now we’re presented with models that depend on private funding – as if that is the answer.

    I think regulation of private industry is the answer.

    Then, if you want to depend on it, at least you’ll know it be somewhat avaialable a year or two from now.

    That or you could tax Silicon Valley in a way that is commensurate with their profits and then use that method we used to use – the representational democracy model – the one Brown has been trying to get us to use.

    That’s why he insisted he wouldn’t raise taxes without public mandate. I think he gets it. For representational democracy to work, people need to realize they have power.

    The power of choice – at the ballot box and elsewhere.

    It’s the most important power we have.

    And one I want us to keep – and use.