The Reinvention of PEP’s Early Childhood Programming

A young child in a preschool class looks directly at the camera

The Reinvention of PEP’s Early Childhood Programming

In the mid-1990s, as Welfare to Work took shape, more children than ever before attended child care.

Soon after, a challenge evolved. Many children new to child care exhibited challenging behaviors, and they were being expelled. This pattern created two problems – parents could not maintain employment and children were losing out on the early childhood development programming they needed.

The county looked to PEP for support, as it had demonstrated success in serving children with social, emotional and behavior challenges in its dedicated Early Childhood Centers that operated from the 1970s until 2011.

With support from many foundations and guidance from nationally-known experts such as Dr. Jane Knitzer, PEP developed a consultation, training, and support model designed to support all caregivers – inclusive of child care workers and parents. The focus of this effort was to successfully maintain children in child care. And the model worked.

From its inception in the 1990s to today, the program has boasted a 98 percent retention rate, far above the 85 percent industry average. In other words, almost all the young children in the program have remained in their early child care setting.

This program model has been so successful that organizations across the country have replicated it.

Ultimately, the most promising part of this reinvention is what it means to our community’s youngest learners and their families. Children stay in their child care settings and have access to the development supports they need; child care workers and parents gain confidence and competence; and parents keep their jobs!

Like so many of our programs, innovations in our early childhood programming were made possible through philanthropy. When you make a gift, you fuel innovation that makes a real difference for kids and ensures they have a future filled with possibilities.


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