Policy Resource

Mississippi Building Blocks Program

Sep 20, 2016

As of 2016, Mississippi Building Blocks worked with 29 centers across the state, and over 500 early childhood programs in 31 counties have benefitted from free equipment, a research-based curriculum, training for teachers and parents, and business advice.

As a state that consistently ranks worst in the nation in child wellbeing and education indicators, Mississippi is pushing to improve its early learning programs through the Mississippi Building Blocks program. The program, launched in 2008, is designed to improve school readiness for children from birth to age 4. Eight years later, the program aims to improve early learning experiences by improving classroom quality, improving teacher instructional practices, increasing family engagement, strengthening child care centers’ business and administrative practices, and teaching developmentally appropriate skills.

At its launch, the program was largely privately funded to the tune of $6 million by several Mississippi businesses and foundations, including the Phil Hardin Foundation, Mississippi Power Company, and the Barksdale Foundation for Northwest. In 2013, Mississippi Building Blocks received $3 million from the state legislature, and identifies as a “state funded” program. Future funding of the program will have to change, however, as the Mississippi State Legislature appropriated no funds for Mississippi Building Blocks in the 2017 budget.

As of 2016, Mississippi Building Blocks worked with 29 centers across the state, and over 500 early childhood programs in 31 counties have benefitted from free equipment, a research-based curriculum, training for teachers and parents, and business advice.

Mississippi Building Blocks provides participating centers with a variety of resources to assist them in meeting program outcomes. These resources include program facilitators who help recruit centers to participate, and provide assistance in accessing trainings and meeting professional development requirements. Participating centers receive classroom materials and resources based on the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-R (ECERS-R) and the Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale- R (ITERS-R). They also receive assistance from business providers on best practices in financial management. Participating centers have access to a professional development model which provides scholarships and training in early care and education and enables teachers to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) degree. The program also provides on-site teacher mentors to help teachers implement new quality strategies learned through their training. Participating families work with a parent advocate, through home visits and in the child care center, to learn more about child development and parenting.

The initiative also has a program evaluation component to examine the program’s outcomes. Participating children are tracked individually across multiple years and program quality is monitored through an independent audit of each program element.

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