Policy Resource

Connecticut Uses Accountability Framework to Improve Child and Family Outcomes

Feb 9, 2016

Learn how the Early Childhood Cabinet is using the Results Based Accountability framework to determine how well the states early childhood system is meeting its goal of all children ready by five and fine by nine.

Since 2005, the Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet has worked to ensure school success for young children by using the Results Based Accountability (RBA) framework. RBA focuses on making policy decisions grounded by data on how state funds are being used to produce desired outcomes for children and families. The Early Childhood Cabinet was selected by the Appropriations Committee of the state General Assembly as one of two pilot projects for the use of RBA in the budget process and has utilized RBA for eight years.

The Early Childhood Cabinet is using the RBA framework to determine how well the states early childhood system is meeting its goal of all children ready by five and fine by nine. Specifically, it is collecting data to learn more about how well the early childhood system and its programs are delivering services, and whether Connecticuts young children and their families are better off as a result of those services. When the Cabinet began this accountability work in 2005, they were working with just three programs to use RBA.

From 2006 through 2009, the EC Cabinet used RBA report cards to strengthen accountability. In 2009, 19 programs were reported and an RBA Accountability Plan was created. In 2013, 6 state agencies completed 15 RBA report cards, a decrease from 2009. In contrast, the use of RBA as a strategic planning and accountability framework increased at the community level. In 2009, 18 towns created early childhood plans in an RBA format. The number of towns with early childhood strategic plans increased to 26 in 2013. The number will increase again in 2014 with 39 towns creating RBA early childhood plans.

To assess whether programs are preparing children to be ready for kindergarten at age five, the Cabinet is collecting data across a variety of quality of life indicators for young children, including baseline data on all children born in 2006, the risk factors to which they are exposed and the services they receive, as well as data on well-child health care, trends in preschool attendance and skill assessment across domains upon kindergarten entrance. Additionally, the Cabinet is examining the early childhood system serving these children, with data on RBA expansion, investment and support of local capacity, data development, private foundation investment, and preschool quality improvements. Once children enter kindergarten, the Cabinet continues to collect similar data on their quality of life and the components of the system serving them.

In their March 2009 report to the Connecticut General Assembly, the Cabinet reported that 44 percent of babies born in Connecticut in 2006 lived in families at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. To turn the curve for these children, the Cabinet made several recommendations, including assigning a unique child identifier at birth so that it easier to identify young children at risk and assure they receive coordinated services that can be tracked over time. The Cabinet also recommended that the state: coordinate federal stimulus dollars for Early Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); target pregnant women and new mothers to address poverty and ensure prenatal care; coordinate state agency outreach to ensure that all at-risk families receive child development and parenting materials appropriate to their reading levels; and formalize a partnership with the CT Judicial Branch to provide professional development on the neuroscience of early brain development.

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has begun development of an RBA model for the agency that will align with agency priorities. This agency RBA model will serve as the structural foundation for the State Board of Education five year (2012-2017) Comprehensive Plan for Education that is required by Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-4©. Since embarking on the RBA journey, the CSDE has been successful in using RBA with local grantees of Family Resource Centers, After School Programs, Youth Service Bureaus and Even Start Programs.

For more information on the Early Childhood Cabinets RBA work, visit http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2711&Q=322618.

Updated October 2013.

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