Children, Inc. is the largest private nonprofit provider of high-quality child care in Kentucky. Their vision is to prepare young children to succeed in school and in life. While the focus of their work is on children, the leadership at Children, Inc. recognizes that preparing kids for kindergarten requires engaged parents – one of the staff members further explained, “Working with parents and families of young children is the single most important thing we can do to prepare children for school and to have a healthy life. We’ve observed a gap between what parents know about early childhood development and what we’d like them to know and do.”
To develop a deeper understanding of their parents and teacher staff, and to build new perspectives on their work, four members of the Children Inc. staff signed up for Studio C (Design Impact + United Way’s project incubator) in 2015. Through the many tools and resources supplied at Studio C, the team learned that the relationship between parents and teachers was often transactional, and needed to be stronger.
Based on these insights, they decided to build their staff’s capacity to develop relationships and engage parents. Their innovation was to create LAUNCH, which brings a highly personalized incentive program to early childhood education, which was one of the biggest ideas that surfaced from their involvement in Studio C.
Children, Inc. has already completed the first few prototypes with great success. The long-term goal of LAUNCH is to scale to other centers and develop a flexible structure that allows parents and teachers more ownership over the initiative. As the team continues to test and refine their idea, they are building a digital platform to support an adaptable, scaled program. This effort was boosted in November 2015, when the team was awarded a $20,000 implementation grant from United Way to fund its further development.
Heather, one of the participants in the Studio C program remarked, “It has given me a new outlook on how our work in the social sector can be creative, exciting, and even energizing. It’s changed the way our organization functions, it’s getting more engagement from staff, and it’s leading us down paths we hadn’t considered before.”
We’re really excited to see where they go next and we’re extremely proud to have been there during the evolution of the program. Hats off to you, Children, Inc.! Or should we say, blast off!