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Jacksonville Recognized Nationally as Early Learning Community
January 24, 2020

Jacksonville is gaining national attention for the early learning initiatives of the Kids Hope Alliance (KHA), including professional development programs for childcare workers and systems-building efforts in the early childhood community. The city is in its second year of service as a faculty city with the National League of Cities (NLC), helping other cities around the country improve their early learning communities.

CoachJax, a professional development program managed by KHA and the Early Learning Coalition, is an initiative that has been held up by the NLC as an example of successful workforce development. The program, which is offered at no-cost to local childcare providers, was highlighted in a recent NLC article titled “Replicable Ways to Support the Early Child Workforce in Your City.” The article cited the organization’s on-the-job development experiences  that are “easily accessible to a low-wage workforce that struggles with the costs of private training or with taking time off work to attend courses.”  The praise continued, “With city-funded support, most programs improve in quality ratings and teachers improve in CLASS scores, resulting in a positive impact on wages when a center earns higher reimbursement rates from the state and a higher annual wage incentive for the teacher.”

Members of the KHA’s Early Learning team, including Director Lenora Wilson, helped design and craft the NLC’s the Early Learning Community Action Guide and Progress Rating Tool. Wilson also participated in the Early Success Summit in San Antonio, along with Chief Programs Officer Dr. Saralyn Grass. The women collaborated with leaders from 40 other cities to tackle the five biggest challenges of early learning: messaging, financing, supporting diverse and growing populations, innovative partnerships, measuring impact.

Wilson applauded the NLC, as well as city administration, for helping the Kids Hope Alliance improve local early learning programs.  “The NLC provided the Kids Hope Alliance with the guidance and resources that led to the alignment of city services and supports for young children in this community. The City of Jacksonville has made a clear statement of support by investing in quality early learning programs and services with consistent and generous funding. Now, the NLC is using our city’s journey to becoming an Early Learning Community to support the effort of others cities across the nation.”