In 2015, we made an investment in the Kindergarten Teacher Home Visit (KTHV) program, providing seed funding, and growth funding, as well as the time and effort of our partnership, to the initiative. The program sends kindergarten teachers to meet incoming students and their families at home before the school year begins. The overarching goal of the program is to build a relationship between the teacher, the student, and their family in order to improve academic outcomes.
Creating a relationship between teachers and families creates a bond—one that allows parents to put a face to the institutions they’re trusting their children with, build trust, and find information and resources. It also provides teachers with the opportunities to learn about their students’ families, giving them time to prepare and adequately assess families’ needs in regards to students’ preparation for a classroom environment.
As of 2016, 60% of Multnomah County children entering Kindergarten had no prior classroom experience, and 39% of kindergartners were chronically absent. Why does that metric matter? Research has demonstrated that the transition into classroom readiness is best assisted by home-visits by teachers. It increases the accessibility and engagement with parents from communities of color and/or English language learners, and helps set expectations and build understanding for both families and teachers.
We made a two-year re-investment in 2016. The program was well-received by school districts and teachers in Multnomah County as an avenue for building bridges with students’ families, so our missions were tightly aligned. The goal for this reinvestment was to create a strategic plan that charted a path towards program sustainability and long-term growth.
We’re at the end of that two-year reinvestment, and Shannon Nelson, our Lead Partner for the investment, would like to share what we’ve learned and accomplished together.
Q: What has KTHV accomplished with the help of SVP specifically?
A: SVP helped to create an amazing program which is breaking down barriers and helping families gain confidence to navigate the school system. We’re collaborating well with SUN programs, and funding seems secure. SVP made the growth available throughout the years.
Q: In your experience as Lead Partner, how did KTHV work across and with multiple organizations (ELM, SVP, Multnomah County, etc.)?
A: There are many players involved in making the KTHV program happen. KTHV is managed by Early Learning Multnomah, funded and fostered by SVP, spread through school districts by SUN, and trained and strengthened by Parent Teacher Home Visits.
Q: What have you learned in your role as Lead Partner?
A: Collaboration makes us strong. Though we sometimes have trouble understanding the limitations of a project and accurately measuring how achievable a goal can be, when we Partner with like-minded people and organizations, we can forge forwards.
Q: Have there been any drawbacks or “failures”?
A: We had larger plans for growth, ultimately hoping for a statewide program. It became clear that in the current Early Childhood Education landscape, there weren’t partnerships statewide that could create expansion within the current KTHV program.
We adjusted our goal though—instead of striving to expand, we built something meant to last. KTHV is sustainable, and they’ve stated that they no longer need SVP funding. It’s an amazing feat, and we’re very proud.