High-quality early childhood education programs can alleviate the effects of early trauma among children exposed to abuse or neglect and mitigate negative outcomes. However, despite their eligibility for participation in such programs, foster children’s enrollment remains low.
This report synthesizes findings from process evaluations conducted by eight Child Welfare-Early Education Partnerships funded by the Children’s Bureau. Their purpose was to build infrastructure to address barriers to permanency and to enhance capacity to deliver multidisciplinary interventions to improve the socio-emotional and behavioral well-being of infants and young children and their families.
Despite challenges, the grantees demonstrated that efforts to increase the enrollment of foster children into high-quality early childhood education programs can succeed using a multipronged strategy that includes the following:
- Fostering interagency partnerships that include stakeholders with decision-making authority from the child welfare, early childhood education, and court systems
- Providing consistent and systematic training for early childhood education and child welfare staff, foster caregivers, and court personnel
- Developing clear and uniform referral and enrollment procedures
- Developing comprehensive and reliable information management systems
- Committing to rigorous evaluation to inform program development and improvement