Connecting schools and communities : a case study of prekindergarten collaboration
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In an effort to increase access to public prekindergarten programs, many states are linking school- and community-based early childhood education (ECE) providers together to jointly deliver services. This strategy leverages existing ECE programs as part of the ongoing expansion of state-funded prekindergarten. Understanding how these efforts unfold at the local level is important for future policymaking that seeks to address the provision and improvement of publicly funded ECE programs. This dissertation explores how prekindergarten collaboration members work together, influence one another, and contribute to increased alignment within the field of ECE. This research presents findings from a case study that examined prekindergarten collaboration in one Texas community. Data were collected primarily through semi-structured interviews with individuals directly involved in prekindergarten collaboration implementation or with families served through public prekindergarten. Findings show that the depth and nature of the partnerships in this effort varied by the location of services and level of support made available to collaboration members. Key program features, such as classroom structure, instruction, and curriculum, were aligned across all three programs. Based upon these findings, I discuss the potential implications for policy and practice and suggest further topics of study related to these issues.