“The cost of childcare is crippling for a lot of parents,” says Emily Broughton, Director of Marketing and Outreach at Preschool Promise. Even if a family of three earns $45,000 per year, they may spend a third of their household income on childcare, putting them in a difficult financial situation.
Knowing the long-term impact of early childhood education, Preschool Promise is dedicated to serving families in the Dayton, Ohio area. They offer preschool tuition assistance to families in their covered area and programs for children, such as monthly play boxes, which include paperbacks, hardcover books, educational materials, and other fun activities.
Regardless of household income, any family can enroll their child into Preschool Promise’s programs for free. The lower your household income, the more assistance you receive. But all families, regardless of their income, can receive tuition support for their child’s preschool.
Parents have a false belief that they have to do something special to enroll their kids, Broughton says, but that’s simply not the case. The non-profit receives funding from Montgomery County, the City of Dayton, and local philanthropists. While this means their spending is more deliberate and permissible, it also means that funding, staffing, and resources are consistently available to support ongoing initiatives.
No matter the age, children are front of mind
Children may be too young to enroll in preschool or join Preschool Promise’s programs, but they can still engage with the nonprofit. To foster relationships with families and school systems in the area, Preschool Promise maintains close ties with the community at large and facilitates ongoing community outreach efforts.
Some of their work involves:
- Communicating regularly with the preschool director in the Dayton public school system
- Hosting local events for parents, expecting parents, and children
- Offering language assistance to immigrant families
- Solidifying short- and long-term partnerships with local organizations
- Engaging with educators directly, providing them with resources to support more learning experiences in the classroom
- Providing children with free ice cream, passes to the science museum, power panda t-shirts, and annual birthday cards, among other fun things
When children become eligible for Preschool Promise programs, parents can enroll them at any time, regardless of the time of the year.
Preschool Promise grants aid to teachers
Preschool Promise isn’t just for children and families. The non-profit also provides stipends to teachers so they can get certifications and access additional learning opportunities.
In the Dayton area, the average rate of pay for early education teachers is just $11 per hour. They don’t receive the same pay or support as K-12 teachers, Broughton says, which is why Preschool Promise is committed to helping preschool and other early education teachers get the training they need to be successful in their fields.
To be eligible for funding, teachers must work at a center that is Star-Rated or in the process of earning a Star Rating under Ohio’s Step Up to Quality Rating and Improvement initiative. The teachers also need to meet certain requirements and be willing to implement Preschool Promise values, which enables a high-quality learning environment for the kids.
“We want these teachers to be able to consistently provide quality care,” says Broughton.
Over the years, Preschool Promise has given money to hundreds of teachers in the area. They have also provided apparel, books, classroom supplies, and other resources to teachers in need. From hosting community-wide virtual events to improving literacy skills with year-long programs, Preschool Promise continues to provide innovative opportunities to local centers, teachers, and families.
Goals have changed amidst the pandemic
“Learning starts at birth,” Broughton says. Unfortunately, costs are prohibitive for a lot of families and the pandemic has only spotlighted this problem.
When childcare centers shut down and children were sent home from school, Preschool Promise acted quickly to address at-home learning challenges. They worked with their funders to supply families with technology and supplies so kids could access educational apps and continue their learning at home.
While the threat of COVID-19 has changed, preschool and kindergarten enrollment is down and many childcare centers and schools have remained closed or are running short-staffed and under-resourced. This is causing significant strain on parents and as a result, their children. Preschool Promise is ramping up its efforts to combat these ongoing challenges and offer more support to families in need.
Measuring success and planning for the future
The long-term goal is to enroll all eligible children into preschool and increase their kindergarten readiness, but doing so requires continued growth through deliberate outreach, extensive marketing, relationship building, community development work, collaboration with the local media, and addressing childcare issues within the county.
To measure their success, the non-profit compares their program enrollment numbers with preschool enrollment numbers. They also track community engagement through marketing outreach efforts. They hope to make parents aware of their services and programs long before they’re actually needed. This means participating in community-wide events and being active on all social media platforms, including Facebook and Tik Tok.
“No matter where a family lives, each child deserves a quality education,” Broughton says.
In just a few years, the non-profit has grown substantially and more than tripled its staff. This has led to more program development and community outreach. While the school year may have just begun, Preschool Promise is already looking ahead to next year and setting goals to increase enrollment for fall 2022. They plan to bring in more community partners, engage further with the immigrant population, and increase their marketing efforts to reach more households.
We’re proud to call Preschool Promise a community partner and we look forward to working with them to provide more educational opportunities to families in need.
You can learn more about our Ohio partners and our Ohio Community Network here.