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Scaling ParentCorps with NYC’s Department of Education

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

Pre-K children looking at ParentCorps tools in a classroom.
Pre-K children looking at ParentCorps tools in a classroom.

I am excited to share our latest publication, an article in the 2021 volume of The Future of Children, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Princeton University to provide research and analysis to promote effective policies and programs for children. We are honored to contribute to this volume highlighting the promise of research-practice partnerships to strengthen early childhood education.

Our story — of scaling ParentCorps in partnership with NYC’s Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood Education — goes something like this. In 2014, NYC launched Pre-K for All, an ambitious public program that rapidly tripled the number of children in free, full-day pre-kindergarten. Shortly after, the city also rolled out ThriveNYC, a citywide mental health initiative with a strong commitment to New York’s young children and families.

By the time the city began these exciting new chapters, our team at NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Center for Early Childhood Health & Development had already partnered for nearly two decades with the city to develop, test and refine ParentCorps, a program designed to support parents and teachers during children’s critically important pre-K year. Thus, we joined forces to take on the admittedly daunting challenge of scaling up our proven intervention to fit within universal pre-K in NYC.

In our article in The Future of Children, we distill some of the key lessons learned from this partnership, including:

  • How to scale a proven model across a large and diverse system, unbundling impactful elements in order to achieve positive impact for the greatest number of children and families;

  • How to modify our proven model, developed and tested for schools, for use in the community-based organizations that house the majority of the city’s pre-K programs; and

  • How to center a set of values -- for instance, a commitment to advancing racial equity, centering parents’ voices, and creating room for continuous learning -- during difficult choice points within a large, multi-year public contract.

In sharing these lessons, we hope to peel back the curtain and give fuel to peer organizations with ambitions to scale their proven models within large public systems and to policy makers considering adopting effective programs. The work of scaling is dynamic and nonlinear, requiring constant adjustment and trusted partnership, but in the end achievable, with incredible potential to drive meaningful systems change for children and families nationwide.

Read the full article: "Scaling Early Childhood Evidence-Based Interventions Through RPPs" in The Future of Children, by Laurie Brotman, Spring Dawson-McClure, Dana Rhule, Katherine Rosenblatt, Kai-ama Hamer, Dimitra Kamboukos, Michelle Boyd, Michelle Mondesir, Isabel Chau, Erin Lashua- Shriftman, Vanessa Rodriguez, R. Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez, and Keng-Yen Huang.

Laurie Brotman is director of the Center for Early Childhood Health & Development and the founder and director of ParentCorps.

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