The Community Connections preschool program was developed in 2006 by the Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) to help prepare children in home-based child care for success in school and in life. It has three goals:
to make state prekindergarten classroom experiences available to children in home-based care;
to extend classroom learning experiences in the home-based care setting; and
to support infant and toddler development in participating providers' homes.
This report describes the methodology and findings of Phase 1 of the evaluation of the Community Connections model.
Community Connections was generally viewed positively by parents and providers.
Teachers and Care Providers Weigh In
Teachers and home-based care providers reported that participation in the program involved both professional development and personal gratification.
Children Saw Benefits
Children were reported to be enjoying and benefiting from participation.
Helps Everyone Involved
Home-based providers reported multiple ways in which the program strengthened the care they were providing.
What's My Motivation?
Teachers, parents, care providers, and children were motivated to participate by the program's focus on extending educational opportunities.
Changes at Home
56% of parents have made changes to their home activities with their children because of Community Connections.
Recommended by Care Providers
33% of parents enrolled solely based on the recommendation of their home-based provider.
Room for Improvement
55% of parents wanted to visit the Community Connections center classroom before deciding to enroll their child, only 22% said they were actually able to do so.
Statements & Quotations
A key conclusion from this implementation evaluation is that many components of the Community Connections Model are being well implemented. They are reported on consistently and perceived favorably across groups of respondents. Yet there are a few areas in which it would be beneficial for further work to be undertaken to document elements of the program model. There are also specific elements that are proving challenging to implement and where work by program developers to provide additional training and supports would be beneficial.
Respondents clearly indicated that Community connections was providing opportunities to connect parents, providers and teachers. Providers consistently reported benefitting from the activities teachers shared during visits, and being able to ask questions about the children during these visits.
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