Working to Increase Higher Education Opportunity and Quality Child Care

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To support families and caregivers, shape policy, and build communities that promote the learning and development of children and youth throughout Washington State through a strong statewide network of local child care resource and referral programs.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

WA Scholarships is a comprehensive scholarship program that supports teachers and child care providers who wish to enhance their education and professional skills in early childhood education by receiving formal training at community and technical colleges. WA Scholarships supports participants working towards their CDA (Child Development Associate), ECE Certificate and AA/AAS degree in Early Childhood Education. We also offer CDA Assessment scholarships once students have completed the CDA course work. WA Scholarships is a component of the Washington State Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

The goal of WA Scholarships is to improve the field of early childhood education by increasing compensation levels, sustaining commitment to the field, and advancing the educational achievements of its scholars. The comprehensive scholarship support provided by WA Scholarships helps remove barriers by providing paid release time, a travel stipend and a majority of the costs to take classes. We provide a bonus at the end of the scholarship contract, and the scholar will be expected to remain a family child care provider or center employee for one year after the conclusion of the contract. As a result, scholars increase their professional status and become better early childhood educators.

Research shows that children in quality child care environments with highly trained and educated teachers are more likely to be prepared for school. The primary beneficiaries of our program are the families and children who receive child care from our scholars. Having consistent caregivers is particularly important to the social and emotional well-being of children. Families benefit from knowing their children spend their time away from home in a quality environment. Previous scholars have demonstrated a significantly higher commitment to stay with their program or in business. The caregiver’s relationship with children is the most critical indicator of high quality care and long-term success in school. Over the course of our program, the turnover rate for child care providers and staff enrolled in the program has continued to decline.

The generous donation of Microsoft software has allowed us to connect to and build relationships with scholars, colleges, partner organizations, legislators and our community in general. We regularly use Access, Publisher, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, Word and Visio to continue to develop our program in ways that increase quality and communication and have a significant impact on the overall success of our scholars and the children they care for.

□ The Access database is essential to our daily tasks. Because we share the database with a local Resource & Referral office, it is used to store and maintain accurate data for four different scholarship programs. With Access we track all scholar information, send tuition vouchers to the colleges, process reimbursements and create reports essential to maintain accurate information for reporting and program maintenance.

Publisher is used regularly to create scholar profile documents that are essential to providing funders with a holistic view of the child care providers in which they fund. These profiles are distributed to local Resource & Referral offices, partner organizations, conferences, funders and legislators. These profiles illustrate the personal stories of child care providers and staff, highlight their goals and create a shared knowledge in the field of early learning. This is a very powerful tool that we have found extremely effective in personalizing scholar’s stories.

We also use publisher to create postcards, flyers, brochures, newsletters and annual reports. All of these are integral to our regular communication with our scholars. This allows us to inform the community of regular trainings, conferences, events and to connect with those scholars who do not have internet access. This also allows us to maintain regular contact with our funders, keeping them knowledgeable on our annual reporting and program impacts.

Outlook provides the program email access, calendar, task and meeting reminders and an address book of contacts. All of these tools are essential to meeting student’s needs, maintaining communication and organizing visits, meetings and events.

PowerPoint gives us tools to give visual presentations to scholars. This allows us to reach a wider audience in a very professional manner than increases our outreach. Word of mouth has been the best method for marketing the scholarship program. A powerful presentation is essential to increasing awareness of the program and the number of scholarship participants.

Excel is extremely useful with keeping records, running data statistics, tracking information and spending and creating mailing lists and labels for outreach purposes.

Word is used to create all of our letters, documents and research materials.

Visio lets us create charts that enable us to provide an alternative form of information to visual learners. This is extremely helpful for English language learners.

Roberta Wright, a family child care provider and WA Scholar, is a prime example of how Microsoft tools have aided in helping her reach her full potential in working for and advocating for children. Roberta has worked with children for 30 years and has been a WA Scholar for five. She will be graduating in 2009 with her two year degree in Early Childhood Education. This year she testified personally in front of legislators to increase funding for professional development funding for early learning. All of this could not have happened without the organization and coordination Outlook provides the visual documentation that aids in confidence and provides a resource to legislators and the Access database that maintains her class information, allowing us to encourage and support her to complete her degree.

WA Scholarships helps to build the capacity of higher education institutions and early childhood programs in Washington State. Washington Scholars attended 31 community and technical colleges offering early childhood education programs and 6 four-year colleges and universities. WA Scholarships serves served a total of 769 students last year, worked with 326 Child Care facilities, providing care for 7,296 children across the state.

As a non profit with limited funding, the tools, resources and technology are what allow us to have such a significant impact. Thanks to these programs we are able to maintain regular contact with scholars, conduct outreach to reach a wider audience, develop and expand our program to meet the growing needs of our program and maintain accurate data and reports for funders. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity and the benefits to come as we successfully continue to work to expand our reach and impact in WA State.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery