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What We Do

What We Do

Educational-First-Steps_HR-1305Since 1990, Educational First Steps has been transforming daycare centers in at-risk neighborhoods into nationally accredited preschools. To do this, we partner with existing daycare centers and preschools in some of North Texas’ most impoverished neighborhoods to give them the proven tools and techniques that transform caregiving into teaching.

Transforming Daycare Centers into High-Quality Preschools

Our signature Four Steps to Excellence 2.0 program places childcare centers on the path to national accreditation from two of the most rigorous accrediting agencies – the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Accreditation Commission of Early Care and Education (NAC). Over a period of 40 months, participating centers can earn accreditation at no cost to them or to parents. We provide a continuum of evaluation, mentoring, training and resource services that include:

  • Accreditation guidance that helps centers meet national quality standards, typically in 34-44 months
  • Professional development training on safety, positive social-emotional development, developmentally appropriate teaching techniques and center management best practices
  • In-classroom mentoring that leads to hands-on mastery of best practices and national standards
  • Educational tools and curricula that most centers in impoverished neighborhoods cannot afford
  • Enrichment programs that expose children to exciting possibilities and experiences outside their neighborhoods and encourage parental involvement
  • Enrollment services that help quality centers reach enrollment capacity and become sustainable organizations
  • Ongoing assessment to maintain quality progress and to continually monitor outcomes

Empowering Home-Based Providers

Many young children never attend preschool, but are cared for at home by a relative or friend of the family. This is particularly true of Hispanic children, who are predicted to account for half the growth in Dallas County’s at-risk children through 2030. To ensure these children also receive the benefits of a positive early learning environment, Educational First Steps is developing a program to coach home caregivers on proven techniques for turning babysitting hours into learning time. The pilot, which focuses on West Dallas and the Pinkston High School feeder pattern, is a collaboration with Trinity River Mission and The School Zone, the flagship project of SMU’s Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education.