The Commission encourages the under-resourced with young children to take advantage of any and all early childhood development opportunities within their reach.
The committee recognized that this action item is difficult to measure because the responsibility is on parents “to take advantage of all early childhood development opportunities.” Early Childhood Development opportunities are listed on the “Get Help” side of the Prosper Springfield website and organizations that work with parents of young children do share available resources. This action item will not be tracked.
Pre-K public, private or faith-based child care should be universal, affordable, accessible, and of high-quality (e.g., low teacher to child ratios), while teaching essential skills and preparing children to be “kindergarten ready.”
There are various Pre-K public, private and faith-based child care organizations that provide high-quality care and are not dependent on the State legislative process. All organizations listed below work closely with Springfield Public Schools.
- 2400 children have started Kindergarten each year
- 75 children participated in scholarship programs over the past four years – 100% of the children in the program are now Kindergarten ready (emotional, cognitive and social development).
- Jan 2018, Darr Family Foundation grant provided funding for scholarships to increase from 75 scholarships to 120 ($1M+ grant provided to increase opportunity for more families to receive services using a systematic approach by working with five elementary schools and five private entities to address emotional/social needs as well as Kindergarten readiness.)
Federally funded program and has certain requirements charged with helping to build social and emotional skills. OACAC operates three office locations in Springfield, facilitating nine different Head Start site locations. OACAC has served the following children in 2017:
- Funded/Actual Enrollment: 800
- Total # Children Served: 1011
Early Head Start
- Funded/Actual Enrollment: 186
- Total # Children Served: 327
OACAC Early Head Start works with two child care partners serving 22 infants and toddlers. Through partnerships with child care, OACAC invests in and enhances the quality and capacity of local businesses in communities. This entrepreneurial approach to serving families integrates comprehensive services into the array of traditional child care settings, which opens new opportunities for infants, toddlers, their families, and child care providers. During 2016-17, 774 families were working and 633 were enrolled in job training and/or school with 175 children receiving child care assistance.
SPS received a fully funded formula in 2018 for one year to expand early childhood education. The plan is to admit 200 children each year for the next three years.
The new SPS Campbell Early Childhood Center opened for the 2018-2019 school year to serve up to 200 Pre-K students whose family meet low-income guidelines and have the greatest educational need. The expansion allows SPS to serve 50 percent more students with early childhood services.
SPS now has 37 Parents as Teachers – 12 were added over the past three years. SPS also has 36 Parent Educators in all 36 elementary schools.
A SPS initiative that invites all nonprofit organizations to collaborate on a quarterly basis to provide program updates, discuss trends and share best practices. This collaboration has been in place for the past four to five years.
The Mayor’s Commission for Children set a goal for 90% of the children in Greene County to be Kindergarten Ready by 2024. An updated report is published every two years. The last report published was in 2016.
From the “Readiness for Kindergarten 2016” Report: (Springfield, Stratford, and Fair Grove areas)
High-quality child care provides development opportunities for children.
High-quality child care is often beyond the financial reach of families/parents living in poverty, and this can become a significant barrier to education, job training, and employment. High-quality child care provides development opportunities for children Missouri’s child care subsidy is the lowest in the nation.
Address the achievement and opportunity gap for some children.
11.30.2018 – Additions made to SPS Strategic Plan
- 1.1.4 The district will research, develop, and deploy strategies that improve engagement, safety and attendance rates for under-resources and underrepresented student populations.
- 1.2.9 Ensure that outcomes for students from dicers and underrepresented backgrounds are improving as they access supports based on their needs and abilities.
- The district will research, develop and deploy actions to increase the graduation rate of all student populations, with an intensive focus on under-resourced and underrepresented students.
- 2.1.5 Recruit, develop, support and retain an effective, qualified, inclusive and diverse workforce of teachers, staff and leaders to better meet the needs of students.
- District Advanced Course Lead charged with assisting in planning and implementing strategies to increase participation in advanced courses, as well as providing supports for current advanced course enrolees.
- Site Advanced Course Champion at each site – boots on the ground at each site to support implementation of strategies to increase participation in advanced courses, as well as provide supports for current advanced course enrollees at each high school.
- Continued Budget Approval for ACT Testing for All Students
- Growth of Empowerment Groups at Middle School Sites: Empowerment groups are (currently at 6 of the 9 Middle School sites with additions launching in January 2019 – ahead of our goal to have at all 9 by 2020.
- Ujima Literacy Partnership with SPS: Tammy Flowers (Asst. Director of Early Childhood) has been a parent favorite at Ujima Literacy nights and is building a bridge to serve families.
- Addition of Trauma Informed: SPS is focusing on providing a safe, connected environment for students with unresolved trauma. Conscious Discipline in an approach based on developing discipline within children rather than applying discipline to them. Pilots across SPS are taking place, which works in tandem with Equity supports from Champions.
- Health Sciences Career Focus: In partnership with the local NAACP Springfield Chapter, we work together to bring health professionals into classrooms to help students “See it and be it.”
- 12,000 participants in Explore Summer School Program that includes meals and transportation
- 17,000 participants in Encore after-school tutoring program with over 60,000 tutoring hours
- Drop Out Reengagement Program with over 300 calls to students that let to reengagement with 70 students to complete high school.
Require students to participate in “real life” simulation to determine income level needed for desired lifestyle. Business and community organizations to deepen their partnerships with SPS to address the achievement and opportunity gap for children with identification of different strategies to support under-resourced learners.
At age 14, SPS students are required to take a Life Skills course. This is a legislative requirement that addresses basic finance education.
SPS launched IGNiTE, a three-year technology initiative to provide ALL students with modern tools and connectivity. The plan is to address the needs of students who do not have Internet access at home. This, in addition to free Wi-Fi offered at Springfield-Greene County library sites, should assist in closing gaps in access (the “digital divide”).
Similarly, under-resourced students have more barriers that may prevent them from participating in the school district’s many partnership-based learning opportunities (e.g., WOLF school, the Health Sciences Academy, and the Academy of Exploration). SPS’ 2015 strategic plan included specific action plans to ensure students based on their needs and abilities, including specific resources and interventions to support their success.
OACAC works with SPS to provide real life simulations for elementary and high school age students.
OACAC’s REALL SIMULATIONS
The 2009 the OACAC Community Needs Assessment showed poverty can be addressed by providing youth with a number of resources by:
- Development of life management skills
- Programs for self-improvement
- Increased services to prepare for life after school
Beginning as a copyrighted project of OACAC, the REALL Simulation has now been adopted across Missouri and throughout the United States. It provides an innovative method for teaching life lessons to young people. Since the launch of REALL Simulation programs at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, Missouri’s graduation rate has improved from 81% to an all-time high of 87.3%. OACAC believes that REALL, as well as the dedication of Missouri educators, has played a small role in this big success.
OACAC is contracted to facilitate 40 simulations in a 10-county service area. While there are not hard-set measurements placed to track the impact of these simulations, REALL participants complete a pre and post assessment complete with sliding scale and questions to assess the mindset of participants walking into the simulation. The questions range from “I know how to make adult decisions” to having them identify whether they have someone to talk to at home. The pre and post assessment are identical and only ask for age and grade allowing the participant to remain anonymous. This survey also helps to track attendance.
There are a few other projects that address some of the components of REALL such a “Mad City Money” by Alternative Federal Credit Union. Most of these other programs focus on financial budgeting. In addition to financial budgeting, REALL also focuses on the overall need for critical thinking and problem solving. Participants at the end of the day walk away with practical financial budgeting skills as well as the applied use of empathy.
GO CAPS provides internships and job shadowing experiences to high school students offering a glimpse into careers they might otherwise not consider. Middle School programming such as Future Forward, allows students to explore a multitude of available possibilities, and to determine possible career choices and educational demands prior to high school course selection.
Similarly, under-resources students have more barriers that may prevent them from participating in the school district’s many partnership-based learning opportunities (e.g., WOLF school, the Health Sciences Academy, and the Academy of Exploration). SPS’ 2015 strategic plan included specific action plans to ensure students from all diverse and under-represented backgrounds are accessing programs based on their needs and abilities, including specific resources and interventions to support their success.
The Commission endorses the Springfield-Greene County Lirary District's focus on early childhood literacy and encourages the District to continue to provide free Wi-Fi access, which is some families' only way to connect to the Internet.
Early Childhood Literacy
Racing to Read is the Library District’s early literacy initiative designed to help families engage in quality learning experiences that support the skills children need to be ready to learn to read. As children’s first teachers, parents have to be armed with an understanding of playful ways they can support the skills children need, starting at birth, to facilitate learning. Racing to Read informs all aspects of Library services to families with young children. These include:
Designed to help caregivers learn playful ways to build early literacy skills in babies, toddlers and preschoolers, serve more than 98,000 children and parents per year in nine branches and 100 outreach sites, including Head Start classrooms, home child care facilities and early childhood classrooms
Available at all ten branches of the Library District, offer safe, clean high-quality play spaces that support language development, family engagement and learning over multiple domains.
Evaluations of these two cornerstones of Racing to Read demonstrated that a majority of parents gained confidence in helping their children learn and discovered new ways to support their children’s learning.
Storytimes, Playtimes and Play & Learn Centers are no-cost opportunities available to any family who visits a Springfield-Greene County Library. The Racing to Read model was adopted by the Missouri State Library to be replicated in all Missouri public libraries.
Racing to Read to Go is the Library’s program that trains staff working in agencies that serve families with young children. The training arms staff with strategies and techniques to help families support early literacy interactions and skills. Agency partners include Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Clinic, Parents As Teachers, LifeHouse Maternity Center, and Great Circle. The program trains more than 230 staff and reaches approximately 1,000 families per year. Almost 16,000 books were distributed to families served by partner programs since the program began.
Summer learning loss can account for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle income peers. The goal of the Library’s Summer Reading Program is to provide children with developmentally appropriate opportunities and incentives to maintain and enhance their literacy skills during the summer months. More than 12,700 youth, birth to grade twelve, participated in the 2018 summer reading program through ten branches, Mobile Library stops and 132 outreach locations. These youth completed 111,800 literacy-building activities, read 128,800 hours, and earned 15,047 new books chosen from a collection high-interest, high-quality titles. Ninety-six percent of parents surveyed agreed that their children gained confidence in their reading skills. Reading confidence is a key factor in supporting reading motivation, which reinforces reading success.
Parents surveyed, agreed that their children gained confidence in their reading skills. Reading confidence is a key factor in supporting reading motivation, which reinforces reading success.
Springfield-Greene County Library District
The Library circulates 80 mobile hotspots to anyone with a valid library card at their 10 library branch locations. A hotspot checks out for a three-week period. Library cards are issued at no cost to residents of Greene County, persons who pay property tax in Greene County, or students residing in university housing. Wireless internet access is available free of charge at all Library branches.
Springfield Public Schools
SPS distributed 20,000 Chrome Books to students with 1,500 hotspots.
Postsecondary Attainment (Education Beyond High School)
The Commission supports the work of the Lumina Foundation grant: Springfield Project 2025 to increase higher education attainment through a collective impact model that includes Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical Community College, Drury University, Evangel University, Springfield Public Schools, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, the City of Springfield, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Job Center.
What are the goals for this project?
11.30.2018 – The state of MO changed the state’s goal to 60% postsecondary attainment by 2020 instead of 2025. According to Lumina Foundation, the general definition of postsecondary attainment means individuals hold a credential beyond high school. -a quality credential that prepares people for informed citizenship and economic success. This type of certification leads to an individual furthering employment or education. The Springfield community has identified three main pathways to help our community achieve our goal:
- For individuals who started a certificate or degree program and stopped, assist these individuals to complete their programs.
- Increase short-term industry-specific job training programs and apprenticeship programs.
- Increase financial coaching opportunities.
3.30.2019 – The nation has a goal to reach 60% postsecondary attainment by 2025. As of 2017, the national rate is 47.6%. The state of Missouri has adopted the same goal and so has the Springfield Community. As of 2017, The MO state average was 42.9% and Greene County was 40.3%. Based on historical data from the Lumina Foundation’s, A Stronger Nation Report, a more realistic goal for Greene County is 48% with a stretch goal of 60% which is realistic because of the various innovative practices to provide more opportunities to enhance skill sets through certification programs that lead to higher paying jobs.
SPS Implement Social Worker Program to provide case management. SPS Under-Resourced Program – Social Worker was removed from the description because there are several positions in SPS that provide work in this area.
“Research, design and begin implementation of SPS Program to help under-resourced families meet basic needs, reduce mobility and help school staff work with families in crisis.” SPS Under-Resourced Program – Social Worker was removed from the description because there are several positions in SPS that provide work in this area.
- SPS has five Attendance Advisors, five Social Workers and Resource Officers. They also have Diversity Champions at each campus and a new full-time Behavior Coordinator.
- 2018 – SPS High School, Future Builders Career Event, to continue the introduction of the construction trade to students.
- 2017 – SPS started the Wednesday Connect Program with services focused for families without a home (includes two Case Managers) to support families with limited resources to meet basic needs, reduce mobility and help school staff work with families in crisis.
- 2017 – SPS WOLF Program reached 400 to 500 students with project-based learning.
- 2016 – SPS started Drop Out Reengagement Program with over 300 calls to students with 70 students in the system with one on one engagement to complete high school.
Reduce cost of higher education and childcare for the under-resourced. Coordination of local, regional, state and federal resources that can reduce the cost of education and child care for under-resourced.
Research in process.
Provide lost-cost housing to under-resourced college students. OTC and MSU providing dormitory access to students enrolled in both locations with expansion to include other four-year institutions.
Research in process.
Under-resourced to take advantage of the higher education or postsecondary opportunities.
The committee recognized that this action item is difficult to measure because the responsibility is on others to “…take advantage of…”- This action item will not be tracked.
Communication initiatives for Every Child Promise, SPS’s communication and engagement initiatives, creation of industry-specific, job recruitment campaigns for middle and high school students.
Research in process.
CFO to explore establishment of 529 College Savings Accounts
CFO explored the concept and found that the infrastructure, maintenance and cost was not available now in Springfield. Also, as part of the Lumina Foundation Grant, Springfield representatives, Morey Mechlin and Francine Pratt, participated in a national discussion that included a couple of states that have 529 programs. Based on this information, there was additional information that supported not moving forward with a communitywide 529 program at this time.