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Overview

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blue triangle for the overview sectionIn Texas, ~50,000 eligible 4-year-olds and ~225,000 eligible 3-year-olds are not enrolled in public prekindergarten. Increasing student enrollment in High-Quality prekindergarten programs across the state is a high priority. This toolkit offers ideas to help guide school districts and charter schools with each step in the process of recruiting, enrolling, and serving prekindergarten-eligible children and their families. The toolkit is composed of five categories: Outreach, Family Education, Registration, Expanding Access, and Community Empowerment. Each category will have strategies with specific tools and content to help expand enrollment in High-Quality prekindergarten programs. 

father and son doing face painting

Outreach

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orange triangle for the outreach section Utilize effective strategies and actions to make families aware of the availability of early childhood education programs in their communities and the eligibility of their children. The outreach efforts should also focus on informing families about the crucial importance of education at an early age. Strategies and associated tools and resources can be found below.

Utilize Targeted Messaging

Create flyers, posters, or using social media to reach families and community members. (See tools)

Partner with Primary Care Providers

Partner with local primary care providers to have them support the prekindergarten awareness effort. Discussing the importance of prekindergarten can be a part of the well-check process. (See tools)

Utilize an Effective Media Campaign

Implement a media campaign that involves TV and radio spots as well as social media. Insert promotional/information ads in local newspapers, district and campus newsletters, utility bills, and bumper stickers. (See tools)

Position Parents as Resources

Promote parent-to-parent sharing of experiences about prekindergarten education through PTO/PTA meetings, informal social events, testimonial videos, and/or home visits. Recruit a group of current and/or past prekindergarten parents who could help with outreach efforts. Provide badges that they can wear during prekindergarten events to help promote the program. (See tools)

 

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Pre-k Best Practices and Advice for Outreach

Overview Document

 

Image of a document with sample messaging statements about the benefits of pre-k

 

How to use these messaging statements

  • Use information to make your own flyers applicable to your area.
  • Distribute to current families.
  • Partner with community agencies to distribute at libraries, churches, neighborhood meetings, homeless shelters, etc.
  • Distribute flyers through local businesses.
  • Connect with your local police department to help spread the word about your pre-k programs.
  • Partner with local realtors to help distribute to new families moving into your area. Target apartment complexes where eligible students reside. Ask if they would be willing to distribute flyers to new and existing renters.
  • English | Spanish

 

Sample Messaging Tools

teacher and children in a classroom all holding their hands up

 

Sample Primary Care Provider Tools

 

How to use the Prescription for Prekindergarten

  • Use the information to create a prescription for your area
  • Reproduce as a notepad to distribute to local primary care providers
  • Meet with the primary care providers to provide some context and background about your programs and why they should prescribe it

 

Media Campaign Tools

 

 

 

Parents as Resources Tools

 

Family Education

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green triangle for the family education sectionProvide clear and simple information to families to help them increase their knowledge and skills regarding their children's development and their role in the process. Strategies and associated tools and resources can be found below.

Highlight Developmental/Parenting Tips

Provide tips for families about child development and learning via newsletters, posters, and/or social media. Small tips can help families become aware of where their child falls on the developmental continuum. (See tools)

Host Family Workshops

Provide bilingual workshops on topics such as: Health and Wellness, How Play Connects to Learning, Developmentally-Appropriate Activities for Young Children, Family Engagement, etc. Empower parents to lead workshops with other parents and/or to provide coaching to other parents. (See tools)

Provide School Tours

Provide school tours (during the school day) throughout the year to prospective parents. This will allow them to get a firsthand look at the school and prekindergarten classrooms. (See tools)

Host a Pre-k Event Day

Host a fair-type event at one of your sites to allow families to experience not only the elements of learning in prekindergarten, but also the features of a "school." (See tools)

Utilize Online Platforms and/or Social Media

Develop a blog where parents can publish their testimonials about their positive experiences in prekindergarten education. Use social media outlets to expose parents to developmental learning tips and/or any of the strategies listed above. (See tools)

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Tools for Highlighting Developmental/Parenting Tips

 

How to use these messaging statements

  • Use information from these tools in newsletters and/or posters to highlight developmental milestones in young children.
  • Take small portions of the checklists to highlight in newsletters and/or on district/school websites.

female teacher explaining something to children at a table

 

Family Workshop Tools

 

How to use these workshop tools

Take ideas from these tools to create engaging learning activities such as "Make and Takes" for families to use at home.

 

School Tour Tools

The School Tour Activity Pack includes tools for putting together a school tour for prekindergarten families (signs, flyers, activity suggestions, and tips!).

female teacher explaining something to a student

 

Prekindergarten Event Day Tools

 

Utilize Online Platforms and Social Media Tools

 

Registration

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 red triangle for the registration sectionSimplify the steps involved in the registration process to make it easier for parents to enroll their children in high-quality prekindergarten programs. Strategies and associated tools and resources can be found below.

Provide Family-Friendly Registration Information

Ensure that your registration process communicated clearly to families through websites, flyers, on at the school itself. (See tools)

Offer Registration Support Packets

Provide registration packets for your campuses/sites/schools to use during their registration days. Include a flow chart of the process and tips such as: greet/welcome families with a smile, provide books/activities that young children can do while parents are filling out documents, etc. (See tools)

Host an Official Pre-k Orientation Day

Host a prekindergarten orientation day that families can attend on their prospective campus. On this day, families can learn about the school, the prekindergarten program offered, meet teachers, and/or take a tour of the school. Include a registration table if possible. (See tools)

Utilize Effective Outreach and Marketing

Promote registration throughout your district: website, administrative offices, campus banners/marquees, flyers, posters, and/or social media. Don't limit your marketing to only campuses that have prekindergarten programs. Work with community and city agencies to advertise prekindergarten registration throughout the community. Advertise registration through local news and radio stations. (See tools)

Position Parents as Resources

Expand the reach of the enrollment office by creating a "Prekindergarten Parent Ambassador" group. This group of parents can help new parents during registration events and/or act as mentors of the new enrollees. (See tools)

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Family-Friendly Registration Information Tools

group picture of a Head Start class

 

Tools for Registration Support Packets

 

Tools for Hosting a Pre-k Orientation Day

 

Outreach and Marketing Tools

 

 

 

 

 

Parents as Resources Tools

 

Expanding Access

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yellow triangle for expanding access sectionFocus on identifying and addressing the specific challenges that may prevent families from enrolling their children in prekindergarten. Strategies and associated tools and resources can be found below. 

Identify Barriers and Challenges

Determine the specific barriers and challenges in your own district/charter through surveys and/or focus groups. Use this information to focus your efforts on eliminating barriers specific to your community. (See tools)

Facilitate Transportation

Find creative solutions to get children to school such as vans, school buses, or a "walking school bus" where a group of trained parents take turns walking children to and from school in a group. (See tools)

Offer Enrichment Activities

Review your prekindergarten school day schedule. Is it in line with other elementary grade levels? If not, consider offering enrichment activities before or after school to make up for the time so that families can pick up all their children at once. Investigate community volunteer groups that may be willing to offer enrichment activities (i.e. art, dance, makerspace, STEM learning, gardening, and/or storytelling).

Provide Before and After School Care

Offer child care on site to accommodate family work schedules that do not align with school day. Investigate partnerships with community agencies that may be able to provide child care on site. (See tools)

Partner with Child Development Centers

Partner with child development centers in your community to provide more before and after school care options for families. Contact the TEA Early Childhood Education Division for more information on how to begin a partnership at (512) 463-8967.

Build Relationships 

Engage in relationship-building activities throughout the community prior to enrollment. Participate in community events, particularly those catered to families of young children, to meet prospective families and showcase your prekindergarten program. (See tools)

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Tools to Help Identify Barriers/Challenges

How to use these surveys

  • Select questions based on the audience you are targeting
  • Survey families of current prekindergarten students
  • Offer the surveys as part of the registration process
  • Offer the surveys in campus offices for families that inquire about the prekindergarten program

blue graphic with generic icons of a family and a house

 

Transportation Tools

 

Before and After School Care Tools

male teacher and students with their hands raised over their hands in a classroom

 

Tools for Building Relationships

 

Community Empowerment

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purple triangle for community empowerment sectionUse families and other community members as ambassadors for the prekindergarten program. They represent a very broad source of experiences and knowledge that can support all the aspects of increasing prekindgergarten enrollment. Strategies and associated tools and resources can be found below. 

Utilize Parent Ambassadors

Recruit current or former parents/families of prekindergarten children who would be willing to help with outreach in the community. Among their many possible outreach support roles, parent ambassadors can provide neighborhood walks, linguistic support, registration help, shared experiences, and/or facilitate workshops for other parents. (See tools)

Build Community Partnerships

Reach out to your community and create a Prekindergarten Community Partnership Group. This group can serve as another voice for your district/charter's prekindergarten program. It can help with outreach, registration, access, family education, and even providing space and support for prekindergarten events. (See tools)

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Parent Ambassador Tools

teachers standing at a table with students looking at papers

 

Community Partnership Tools

 

Example Enrollment Campaign

Overview

In the DFW region, Commit2Dallas has brought 13 districts together to build a campaign around prekindergarten enrollment and registration. The cohort of districts pooled resources of their marketing dollars towards a nearly $150,000 joint media buy. For example, instead of Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD both trying to buy air time on the same station for PreK enrollment, there is a general commercial that both districts (and other districts) have contributed towards, which allows us to have a higher frequency of the commercial. This makes the message about enrolling your child in a high-quality PreK program, rather than enrolling in a particular district. This only works, though, if districts have agreed to a common registration period.  The districts in this cohort have agreed to the first week in April. 

The resources and tools provided in this section have all been shared by Commit2Dallas.  Their hope is that this will be helpful to other regions/districts who are interested in adopting this model.  If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Chelsea Jeffery at chelsea.jeffery@commit2dallas.org or by phone at 972-965-3296.

 

Project Timeline 

Commit2Dallas is sharing their project timeline which gives an idea of when they start mobilizing and activating on the various strategies. Commit2Dallas is happy to talk more about how they work with districts to track their data throughout the summer so that they can target their outreach efforts more strategically as the start of school approaches. 

Tools

Pre-K Enrollment Campaign Project Timeline

 

Regional Website

www.PreKDFW.org 
13 districts in DFW provided Commit2Dallas with PreK locations and the program offerings to help parents find the program within their district that fits their needs. Commit2Dallas realized last year that many parents don’t even know what district they live in, much less what PreK programs are offered. The site also provides a link to quality child care in the zip code provided if that child is too young for PreK or they don’t qualify.

 

Text Messaging Platform

A text message platform was used to give parents a different avenue to ask questions or get information.  The platform used in the DFW area was SignalVine.  Parents would text the word Pre-K to a designated text number and that would then allow them to be able to text any questions they had regarding pre-k.  Registration information could also be pushed out through text messages to the parents who were using the platform.

Tools

  • Commit2Dallas was able to provide Dallas ISD with data from the texting platform after having it available for 2 months.  (Dallas ISD SignalVine Analysis)
  • This document shows the end of summer results from texting and how they were used to identify best practices in marketing efforts. (End of Campaign Texting Analysis)

 

Radio Commercials

Commit2Dallas worked with a community partner to develop a radio commercial with parent and kid voice, rather than using your typical district spokesman. After the commercial aired, we saw a large increase in the number of texting participants and enrollment in districts. 

Tools

Radio Commercial Link

 

TV Commercials and Videos for Social Media

Parent testimonial videos (English and Spanish) were utilized on social media and throughout the website. This year a 30 second TV advertisement with concepts developed by parents was created (English and Spanish). There are also longer 1 minute versions that will be pushed out via social media.

Tools

 

Community Partners

Over 50 community partners were utilized to distribute district flyers to families. Partners can be anyone from a church to a WIC office. Partners request flyers through a survey and then Commit prints and distributes to lower costs. What’s unique about this is that these partners can be trained to be Pre-K advocates beyond just giving them flyers. For example, many of the same documents needed to apply for SNAP benefits at WIC are the same documents needed for PreK. We provide partners with training materials, FAQ sheets, social media guides, documentation required, etc… to help them be advocates who walk parents through the enrollment process.

Tools

 

Other Resources