Strategies for enrolling traditionally underserved families in early childhood education programs

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Six agencies in Illinois received 18 months of funding from the governor's office to develop effective and innovative strategies to recruit young children from traditionally underserved families into early childhood education (ECE) programs. The five agencies that provided families with immediate follow-up and some services shortly after recruitment were able to maintain contact with families while those families waited for their child to be enrolled. Most agencies reported enrollment delays because of waiting lists. Agencies that provided "interim services," such as weekly preschool activities or a monthly home visit, reported retaining the largest number of families for future enrollment in ECE programs. In addition, agencies indicated that it was essential to "go to" families to assist them with enrollment-related paperwork and not expect families to come to the agency. Collaborating with other agencies that provide additional services to families living at or near the poverty level was another important factor for retaining families for future enrollment. A research team at the University of Illinois conducted the evaluation of the program. Each of the six agencies participated in three evaluation interviews scheduled at the beginning, middle, and end of the funding period as well as an optional monthly teleconference call to share information and solve problems. The research team used the interviews and teleconferences to evaluate the effectiveness of the six agencies' recruitment strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEarly Childhood Research and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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