Oct 07, 2015

Only 15 Percent Implement Fully Coordinated Outreach and Enrollment System

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced more Early Childhood Care and Education Network communities have improved on working together to coordinate child care enrollment. According to a second annual self-assessment survey, nearly 90 percent of network communities – consisting of parishes, Head Start providers, child care facilities, and pre-kindergarten programs – are working together on advertising opportunities to parents, receiving parent applications, and assigning families to centers. Still, while more communities are joining efforts, only 15 percent of parish networks have completely coordinated their enrollment to create a unified process for parents to apply. A report on survey results highlights the second annual self-assessment of networks as required by Bulletin 140. This coordination is part of the state’s implementation of the landmark Act 3 of 2012, which seeks to unify the state’s fragmented system of early childhood care and education.

“We are on the right track in Louisiana to improving access to quality child care for all children in the state, but there is still much work to be done,” said State Superintendent John White. "By network participants working together to simplify the enrollment process for families, we’ll ensure more children are served and as a result enter kindergarten ready to succeed.”

Per Act 717 of the 2014 Legislative Session, child care centers, Head Start providers, and Pre-K programs must coordinate enrollment services by working together in four ways.

  • Coordinated Information Campaign: Inform families about the availability of publicly-funded early childhood care and education programs serving children birth to four-years-old.

  • Coordinated Eligibility Determination: Ensures families are referred to another available, publicly-funded provider should they be ineligible or unable to access their primary choice due to availability.

  • Coordinated Application: Collect family preferences regarding enrollment choices for publicly-funded early childhood care and education programs.

  • Matching Based on Preference: Enroll at-risk children based upon a family’s preferred list of publicly-funded providers.

Coordination across each area is at different levels statewide, but more than half the state’s network communities are at least partially working together across the four areas, an improvement over last year when only a fraction of the communities were working together. Additionally, the number of communities improving from achieving none of the three areas (information campaigns, applications, and matching) to partially working coordination has increased.

Bulletin 140 continues the work of Act 717 requiring pilots from cohorts 1 and 2 to implement all four components during the 2015-2016 school year for use in the enrollment process for the 2016-2017 school year. Cohort 3 pilots are required to implement three of the four areas during the 2015-2016 school year – coordinated information campaign, coordinated eligibility determination and coordinated application – for use in enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year, and implement matching based on preference by 2016-2017 for 2017-2018 enrollment.

Communities Achieve Full Coordination

To date, just 10 Community Networks, or 15 percent, have developed a complete enrollment system. Five cohort 2 pilots achieved this in their first year including Allen, Jefferson Davis, Morehouse, Sabine, and Winn Parishes. The five cohort 1 pilots include Ascension, Cameron, Jackson, Ouachita, and West Baton Rouge Parishes. The result of their efforts is that families had a much easier time understanding the enrollment process and applying to programs.

“In Sabine, we know that none of our programs can serve all of our children – coordinated enrollment supports our community to serve more children,” said Melyssa Snelling, Sabine Parish Community Network. “We collaborated as a network to create a single unified application for preschool, Head Start, and child care, and work closely across providers to refer families on the waiting list to the available seats at our child care. By coordinating enrollment, families are now better informed about all of the options in Sabine parish, and more children are able to access seats.”

“As an educator, this process has allowed me to network with other early childhood entities to align practices and support for all early childhood centers,” said Crystal Washington, Morehouse Parish Community Network. “As a parent, it has magnified the importance of providing equitable access to high-quality centers for all children regardless of background.”

“As a federally-funded program, our goal is to maintain Head Start mandates and adhere to the requirements of the state and both were accomplished,” said Sandra Stewart, Morehouse Community Improvement Organization Head Start.

What to Expect:

During the upcoming year, every community will work together to further develop their enrollment system, using their self-assessment as a baseline to determine focus areas. Cohorts 1 and 2 will submit enrollment plans in November 2015. Cohort 3 will continue to receive state support and technical guidance before submitting enrollment plans in January 2016.

To view results of the 2015 Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment Survey, please click here.

For more information on the Early Childhood Care and Education Network, please click here.

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