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New website shows Universal Pre-Kindergarten value for families

A mother smiles at her infant daughter that she's holding. Dad is smiling at the infant daughter as well.

As the state moves closer to implementing Universal Preschool, CCRC is working with partner agencies to inform on the value of a mixed delivery system. That system includes options for families who may want early care and education outside the traditional school-based classroom.

The Kindergarten Readiness Act makes Transitional Kindergarten (TK) available for four- and some three-year-old children. The legislation gives new support for these students, but it does not include younger children who don’t qualify for public preschool because of their age, and who aren’t yet old enough to enroll in Kindergarten or a TK classroom. UPK is an initiative that bridges programming in community-based organizations, Head Start, and state preschool to a newly envisioned UTK to support children in the birth to grade 12. The UPK program elevates early learning in preschool and UTK to provide parent choice in programming that is play-based and developmentally appropriate to meet the needs of all students across a mixed delivery system that includes a variety of models from private preschool to Local Education Agency (LEA) program models.

Thanks to funding from Heising-Simons Foundation, CCRC with partners EveryChild California, First 5 California, Partnership for Children & Youth, District Innovation and Leadership in Early Education, and Santa Clara County Office of Education has developed the UPK Partnership Guidebook website. We hosted a joint launch event with five partner organizations in May.

The UPK Guidebook is part of a statewide effort to provide full-circle support for children and families by supporting California’s school systems partners in the mixed delivery system. Our newly launched website explains the value of a mixed delivery system and how it works. This includes tangible, curated resources that are informed and inspired by those responsible for day-to-day implementation. The mixed delivery system UPK Guidebook brings together early education programs, as well as other Pre-K programs serving 3- and 4-year-old children.

One of our partner organizations, Every Child California, weighs in on the development of the site.

“The UPK partnership guidebook is a website that was started by six partnered stakeholder organizations all involved with mixed delivery ECE in California – it’s funded by Heisman Siemens Foundation,” said Every Child CA Director of Professional Development and Innovations Adam North. “What this collective realized is UTK is a component of UPK. The state has rolled out this plan but what we thought may be missing is – or where our strength as stakeholders can provide is – front line perspective and resources to help deliver on this model. Our next phase will be bringing in resources from the community, so this will become a community sourced project where you can share ‘hey, in our area this tool is working well or this is how we’re recruiting for the workforce or this is how we’re engaging families – and we have such a great desire in our workforce to share this with one another, so we’re hoping this provides a platform to do so.”

The UPK Partnership Guidebook emphasizes the importance of partnerships to fully deliver a UPK system. Our aim is to provide the tools to facilitate these relationships and create a common understanding of the regulations that govern UPK.

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