The Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure Project, Final Focus Group Evaluation.
Franke, Todd. Klein, Sasha. Lee, Sei Young. Benson, Stephanie.
Regency of University of CA.
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This report describes an evaluation of a key objective of the Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure Project (LACWEEP), a federally funded project intended to increase access to high quality early care and education (ECE) services for young children in the child welfare system in Long Beach, California. The evaluation was conducted with ten focus groups involving 78 participants between November 2012 and June 2013, to explore attitudes of parents and caregivers, early care and education (ECE) providers, and child welfare staff on the potential benefits of ECE and barriers impeding ECE access for child welfare-supervised children. Focus group analysis identified five cross-cutting themes related to the benefits of ECE for children in the child welfare system as perceived by child welfare staff, ECE providers, and parents/caregivers: opportunity for socialization, opportunity for early intervention with developmentally delayed children, building a foundation for school readiness and future educational attainment, opportunity for developmental stimulation, and providing structure and maintaining stability. Benefits for parents/caregivers and child welfare workers are also discussed. Barriers that impede ECE access were also identified and included waitlists, a lack of available infant/toddler care, restrictive and/or confusing eligibility requirements, prohibitive ECE program costs, and the seasonal availability of ECE. Additional barriers were identified pertaining to child welfare and families and caregivers, as well as other issues regarding ECE access and utilization. Finally, the benefits of an electronic Head Start/ECE referral system are described and recommendations for improving ECE access and utilization are made. 1 table and 6 references.
early childhood education; foster children; early intervention programs; interagency collaboration; referral; California; professional training