Early Childhood Development Scholarship Model Evaluation | SRI International

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Early Childhood Development Scholarship Model Evaluation

SRI developed and conducted a 4‑year process and outcome evaluation of an early childhood scholarship model in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

For the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF), SRI developed and conducted a 4‑year process and outcome evaluation of an early childhood scholarship model in Saint Paul, Minnesota. MELF had sponsored the pilot project to test the scholarship model as a way to increase the access to and quality of preschool and child care programs for children living in low-income neighborhoods. The model encompassed (1) mentoring to enhance parents’ knowledge about the characteristics and benefits of high-quality early education and care programs, (2) scholarships to pay for children to enroll in such programs, and (3) quality standards for participating programs. Through a collaborative planning process with MELF staff and the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) at the University of Minnesota, SRI developed the evaluation plan in 2007 and conducted the evaluation in 2008 through 2011. Longitudinal data on children, families, programs, and neighborhoods were collected to see how the model related to children’s development and school readiness, family outcomes, and the supply and quality of early childhood education programs.

The evaluation included 257 of the 449 children with scholarships. The children in the evaluation sample attended 2 years of a high-quality early childhood education program, entered kindergarten in 2010 or 2011, and had consent to participate in the evaluation. Multiple reports and briefs on implementation and outcome data were prepared, including a final report in December 2011 Data from the evaluation suggested that the scholarship model was implemented successfully and was successful in increasing the school readiness of the participating children.  Data were used by Minnesota’s policymakers to improve the state’s early learning system.