Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
The Duke Endowment
Using CQI to advance Kindergarten Readiness in Tri-County South Carolina
Over 47,000 children under the age of 5 live in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties in South Carolina. The area is home to numerous social support and education programs for young children and their families. Despite these programs, more than half of children entering kindergarten in the fall of 2018 did not meet kindergarten readiness standards in phonics, numeracy and social and emotional development. These children were disproportionately Black and Hispanic, and/or came from low-income households. For these groups of students, disparities persist and even worsen as children continue in their schooling. In 2018, Just 28% of Black children and 32% of Hispanic children meet 3rd grade reading proficiency levels, compared to 68% of White children.
Children’s early years form the foundation for their academic and social success. Those who start kindergarten on track tend to stay on track, and those who start behind often find it difficult to catch up. To ensure all children start school ready to succeed, communities must create early childhood systems that promote and support the development of the whole child. Simultaneously, service providers need to use evidence-based, child-centered, and developmentally and culturally appropriate curricula and practices within systems that work with children.
With funding from the Duke Endowment, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) and Root Cause are partnering to strengthen a cohort of local early childhood service providers with continuous quality improvement (CQI) coaching. CQI is a process of collecting, analyzing, and using data to improve the quality of services being delivered. Coaching by Root Cause will help local providers strengthen their capacity to collect and use data to improve program quality, towards the ultimate goal of increasing rates of kindergarten readiness among children in the community.
A part of Root Cause’s process for CQI includes assessing each organization. Program leaders take an assessment that focuses on Program Quality and Performance Measurement Capacity. The assessment uncovers opportunities to apply CQI practices that strengthen quality across these domains:
- Accessibility: How do programs address barriers to participation for marginalized populations?
- Family Engagement: How do programs systematically involve families in their planning, development, and evaluations of programs designed to serve them?
- Referral Process: How do programs coordinate services with other providers?
- Staff Support & Performance: How do programs prioritize staff development and retention and provide cultural competency training with the aim of ensuring that staff have the support and preparation they need to deliver quality services?
- Trauma-Informed Practice: How are programs designed to address the consequences of trauma and to facilitate healing?
- Use of Evidence: How do programs use research to inform their approach?
Root Cause then works with programs to analyze and apply assessment data in the design of a capacity improvement plan that strengthens program quality and performance measurement practices.
Goals & Results
Root Cause is working with TCCC and a cohort of direct service providers through 2021. First, Root Cause worked with TCCC to introduce the CQI Initiative to the community and develop trusting partnerships with key stakeholders, particularly grassroots and community leaders, across the Tri-County area. Together, TCCC and Root Cause formed a working group and selected eight programs to participate in the cohort:
- Communities In Schools Charleston
- Early Head Start Child Care Partnership
- Father to Father Inc.
- First Steps Berkeley County
- First Steps Dorchester County
- Parents as Teachers
- Parent Child Interaction Therapy Charleston
- Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina’s Residential Program for Pregnant Teens
Each participating program completed a CQI Assessment that is guiding the development continuous improvement plans. Over the course of 15 months, Root Cause is providing individual coaching to strengthen cohort members’ CQI practices and service quality. As a result, we expect participating programs will show measurable progress over the course of the coaching, based on their initial assessment.
Key stakeholders of the initiative will meet to regularly assess progress and identify lessons learned to support continuous improvement. Root Cause is working to build the capacity of TCCC so that they have all of the knowledge, materials, and tools to continue implementing all aspects of the CQI initiative after the project concludes.
To learn more about continuous quality improvement for social service providers visit our Continuous Quality Resource Library.
About the Partner
Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) is a community movement in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, South Carolina, committed to improving educational outcomes for all students.
Using data and focused community collaboration across a continuum from “cradle-to-career,” TCCC works to build and implement strategies that will facilitate widespread systemic change, with the ultimate goal of increased student success and economic prosperity for all. Families, students, educators, administrators, nonprofits, businesses, school districts, colleges, churches and other civic and philanthropic groups and service providers have joined as partners in this movement, and others are encouraged to get involved.
The Duke Endowment
Since 1924, The Duke Endowment has worked to help people and strengthen communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits.
Located in Charlotte, N.C., the Endowment seeks to fulfill the visionary genius and innovative legacy of James Buchanan Duke, one of the great industrialists and philanthropists of the 20th century.
The Endowment has awarded more than $3.7 billion in grants since its inception, including over $1.5 billion to Duke University. With assets of $3.69 billion in 2017, the Endowment is one of the nation’s largest 501(c) (3) private foundations. Today, more than 80 percent of its total spending goes to grantmaking.
In addition to grantmaking work in four program areas, the Endowment shares its knowledge by publishing resources for grantees and other service organizations, including information about what the Endowment is learning from its work in various publications, reports and evaluations. The Endowment also operates a fellowship program to cultivate emerging leaders in philanthropy.
For more information about The Duke Endowment, please visit its website.