Early Childhood Learning@100%: Innovation 1
Tracking Supply and Demand
The projects presented in the ten innovations areas are all designed to address barriers to vital services. Action teams should review all projects and prioritize those that have the best chance of addressing the barriers identified in the 100% New Mexico countywide survey. Your collaborative and result-focused local work is nothing less than heroic.
Project: Early Childhood Learning.1.1
Project 1: The “all-important early childhood programs analysis” project
Unlike other services like transport, no single number will give you a reasonably complete picture of the situation with access to early childhood learning programs. But by gathering multiple data sources and tracking them over time, you should be able to get an idea of how many families lack access to early childhood programs in your community. Here’s your list:
- State Agencies: Contact your state department of early childhood programs and ask about data sources.
- Foundations: Contact foundations that fund early childhood learning projects to inquire what data they might house.
- Access: Identify early childhood learning program prices and eligibility criteria. There may be local or regional websites that track this information.
- American Community Survey: Research income data from the American Community Survey then compare it to costs for early childhood learning programs in your county. This will tell you how affordable your community is.
As mentioned, this won’t be as simple an assessment as the transportation situation, but if you get these numbers, you should at least be able to tell if the situation in your community is going in a positive or negative direction. In this project, you will be gathering data to paint a picture of local early childhood learning program accessibility. This is the first step in identifying challenges. Imagine, in some sci-fi future, all residents had a family pass — a plastic card with a barcode — that would be used for all forms of early childhood learning programs. Now imagine that an AI program analyzes this data from all county residents to identify high and low use and where gaps in services exist, offering recommendations for fixes.
Project: Early Childhood Learning.1.2
Project 2: The “can you get there from here?” project
Good early childhood development program planners figure out where people are concentrated and then plan service accordingly. A lot of early childhood learning programs are pretty siloed entities (as opposed to a seamless system), and folks in the field have not done this kind of self-assessment. Luckily, using census data, your own eyes and Google Maps, you can do it for them. First, learn how to do custom drawings on Google Maps (an internet search will lead to some tutorials). Next, take a look at the American Community Survey, Google Earth satellite images and the results from your Resilient Community Experience Survey. This should be enough to get started.
Project: Early Childhood Learning.1.3
Project 3: The “do our programs exist where they should?” project
Your early childhood learning system (notice the term “system,” as it should be one seamless system serving the entire county) should serve all residents, especially your community’s most critical areas: communities with high rates of child welfare involvement, low income areas, areas with high unemployment, and high schools with low achievement and high dropout rates. Find or make a map of the county, then make a map of all “high risk” areas and all early childhood learning programs. Next see how well those two maps overlap. Also take a look at service frequency: are programs being offered where the need is the highest? Whether early childhood learning programs “serve” the most critical areas depends on more than what the map looks like.
One issue to tackle will be transportation. One type of early childhood learning program may well be the next town over from where the need for that particular service is the greatest. Can you get there from your town? Often the answer is no, especially in places where state transit leaders have ceded their planning authority to county leaders. This issue leads to your action team talking with the transportation action team (and possibly more teams).