Academic journal article Child Welfare

Child Day Care in the Schools: The School of the 21st Century

Academic journal article Child Welfare

Child Day Care in the Schools: The School of the 21st Century

Article excerpt

The development and education of children in the United States is being increasingly compromised by a lack of coordinated high-quality services that accord with the changing needs of families. The School of the 21st Century is a school-based/school-linked program that promotes the optimal development of all children by providing high-quality services from the birth of the child through age 12. The model has been implemented in over 300 schools. This article discusses the rationale of the program, the use of the school in the delivery of support services, the model as it has been implemented in various communities, and the benefits as well as challenges associated with the expansion of the traditional mission of the school. Preliminary results of a three-year outcome evaluation are included.

The School of the 21st Century is a school-based/school-linked family support program designed to promote children's optimal development by providing high-quality child day care and support services to children from birth through age 12. At its core are two child care components: before- and after-school and vacation care for school-age children and full-day child day care for three- to five-year-old children. The child day care components operate year-round, including holidays, snow days, school vacations, and inservice days when the schools are not in session. Schools of the 21st Century also include several outreach components: home visiting by trained parent educators to parents of children from birth to age three; information and referral services; networking and professional development for family child care providers; and health and nutrition services. In addition, as figure 1 illustrates, many Schools of the 21st Century have expanded their core services to include partnerships with community-based child day care providers and additional services that may be needed in the community.(Figure 1 omitted) Together, the components establish an infrastructure for the coordination of four interrelated social systems that have the largest impact on children's development: the family, the child day care environment, the school, and health care services.

All components of The School of the 21st Century are designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs and resources of a given community. Thus, The School of the 21st Century is not

program per se but a constellation of services delivered and coordinated under the auspices of schools that facilitate interaction among these four systems in behalf of families and children.

Implemented in over 300 schools in 14 states, The School of the 21st Century was conceptualized in 1987 in response to the pressing need for a system of high-quality services that meet the needs of contemporary American families

Zigler 1987

. Implementation, research, and ongoing conceptual development of the model are coordinated by the Yale University Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

The theory underlying the model is that child day care, like the other three social systems noted above, is an environment the child experiences that helps determine the child's development. If the quality of the environment is high, the child is able to learn and acquire the skills necessary for later success in school. If the quality is low, the child's development is compromised. The four social systems are interdependent, with factors in each one influencing the others. Of concern is the reality that many of America's children are in child day care settings where the quality is so poor that their developmental needs are not met.

The School of the 21st Century is providing the means for increasing the availability and accessibility of high-quality child day care. In this article, The School of the 21st Century is described as it has been implemented in several communities, including the benefits and challenges inherent in the use of the school for the provision of child care and support services. …

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