ALLEGANY COUNTY JUDY CENTER STUDIES

The Judith P. Hoyer Child Care Early Care and Education Center ("Judy Center") Grant was established in the memory of the late Judith P. Hoyer, wife of Congressman Steny Hoyer and lifelong child advocate. The statewide goal of the program was to provide funding for non-duplicative pre-K services that would fill gaps in existing early childhood service delivery or, in the words of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Judy Center Request for Proposals (RFP), "expand and enhance existing comprehensive early childhood education services" (MSDE 2000). Studies of early childhood care show that the current system of early childhood education and care is fragmented (Blue Ribbon Commission 2001), that in-need children are only partially covered by existing federal and state programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Extended Elementary Education Program (EEEP), and that the effects of quality pre-K on both cognitive and non-cognitive skills are potentially profound (Blue Ribbon Commission 2001, Heckman 2001).

These needs and gaps were evident in Allegany County when the Board of Education applied for funding. Indicators of county child poverty, child health, and student readiness are relatively poor and suggest a need for additional early childhood care and education resources (ACBOE 2000). Like elsewhere in the State, existing services were relatively fragmented, not centralized, geographically uneven, and sometimes relied on vulnerable soft funding sources. In addition, existing services such as Head Start were able to meet only part of their service area needs.

The Judy Center RFP identified 10 components (described in table 1.1) that every grant application must have (MSDE 2000). These 10 components formed the basis for the 11 component standards used in evaluating each of the Judy Centers (explained in section 4.0). In addition, the RFP outlined additional criteria that would be used in prioritizing applications (see table 1.2). The proposal submitted by the Allegany County Board of Education addressed each of the components and enlisted the support of eight agency and non-profit partners from the County, including: Allegany County Department of Social Services, Allegany County Health Department, Family Junction, Frostburg State University, Human Resource Development Commission (HRDC), Office of Children, Youth, and Families, Maryland Childcare Administration, and YMCA. The role of each organization in the Judy Center Management Plan is summarized in table 1.3

The three emphases (or activities) adopted by the Allegany County Judy Center were determined after focus group discussions with partners and reflecting upon the goals and criteria in the Judy Center RFP. These emphases include: (1) Parents (support and education), (2) childhood education, and (3) childhood health (nutrition, health, and safety). The major categories of services offered as a result of these three emphases included: (1) Pre-kindergarten, (2) Kindergarten, (3) Preschool special education, (4) Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program, (5) Head Start, (6) Family Literacy, (7) Parenting, (8) Child Development, and (9) Health Programs. Children are referred to the Judy Center by participating partners identified in the proposal Memorandum of Understanding.

The Judy Center is located at Beall Elementary School in Frostburg Maryland. The proposal states that it will house: (1) Two full-day kindergarten classes (40 children), (2) Pre-kindergarten (Jan 2001 through June 2001, half-day program and twenty children and during 2001-2002, two half-day programs and forty children), (3) Preschool special education, (4) Infant and Toddlers program (approximately 80 children), (5) Before and after early childhood education services (approx. 20 children), and (6) One half-day multi-age preschool class (20 children). Funding for 18 months was secured to establish the Center in the amount of $647,000. The grant contained funds for staffing, staff development, materials and supplies, professional development, and partner agency services. The Center is overseen by two staff members, Debra Kolb (Center Coordinator) and Shalla Navalaney (Case Manager) and employs eleven teachers and aides. Beginning in June 2002, a registered nurse will be available at the Center on site and for home visits.

The Judy Center is jointly administered by Center staff and a Steering Board consisting of local partners. The Steering Board meets on a quarterly basis and reviews the Management Plan and partner coordination effectiveness. The Steering Board also participated in a self-appraisal of the Judy Center based on the eleven Judy Center standards distributed by MSDE. Weekly teacher meetings and a quarterly reporting system for MSDE provided additional information for accountability and feedback. Finally, much of the information reported in this evaluation (including parent and partner surveys and child progress reports) was used on an ongoing basis to provide information for program adjustments. .

Sources:

eQuotient, Inc. 2006. Allegany County Judy Center Evaluation, July 2005-June 2006.

eQuotient, Inc. 2005. Allegany County Judy Center Evaluation, July 2004-June 2005.

eQuotient, Inc. 2003. Allegany County Judy Center Evaluation, July 2003-June 2004.

eQuotient, Inc. 2003. Allegany County Judy Center Evaluation, July 2002-June 2003.

eQuotient, Inc. 2002. Allegany County Judy Center Evaluation, January 2001-June 2002. Main Report. Appendices.

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