New resource: Opportunities for Special Education and Early Intervention in Pay for Success (Institute for Child Success)

In the less than ten years since it arrived on the American social policy scene, Pay for Success financing has helped finance 24 U.S. projects, including 7 focused on early childhood programs (as of this month). These projects have used innovative outcome-based financing to bring new resources to early childhood education programs, prenatal and newborn home-visiting, and child welfare programs. In a new paper, we turn our attention to another underfunded area of early childhood development and ask: how can PFS be used to expand and improve services for young children with disabilities?

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Issuing Bonds to Invest in People (New York Times)

Renee Beavers, a social worker in Connecticut, visits mothers — and a few fathers — who have young children and substance use disorders.

Her clients in the state’s Family Stability Pay for Success Project spend intensive time with Beavers and the others on her team: three visits of up to an hour each week, for at least six months.

Beavers makes sure the children are safe, does a supervised drug screening — she or a male counterpart goes into the bathroom and watches the client urinate in a cup — and then talks with clients about parenting, and about quitting drugs.

Combining drug treatment and parenting programs in the home, where there are no transport or child-care barriers, not only protects children. It also takes advantage of a drug user’s key motivation to get well.

“Being able to parent a child is the primary positive reason for sobriety,” said Karen E. Hanson, who teaches social work at the Yale Child Study Center and developed the methods the project employs. “We’ve heard many times, ‘I really was not worth stopping for, but my child was.’”

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Pritzker-backed school denied charter status (WCIA)

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- On the campaign trail and in his attack ads, Pritzker has adopted a critical stance against charter schools, claiming to support a moratorium to block their expansion. But in 2013, Pritzker spoke at Educare D.C., calling the newly launched school the “gold standard” adding, “This [school] is what I want for every child in America. Would this not be perfect?”

At the time of his remarks in July 2013, Educare was still a private school operating with the support of public funds. It’s teachers, similar to charter schools, are not union members. It’s funding, similar to charter schools, comes from taxpayers and private investors. It also had financial backing from one of Pritzker’s tax-free foundations, the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), according to a 2014 charter school application.

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Should Wall Street pay for preschool? (The Hechinger Report)

GRANITE, Utah — On a recent winter afternoon, the scene inside Dobrila Hasic-Botic’s preschool classroom in Granite, Utah, seemed typical of a high-quality pre-K. A 4-year-old in a poufy pink skirt recited the first letter of her name. A boy in jeans and a golf shirt drew shapes on a small whiteboard in his lap. And a 3-year-old with an infectious smile did a somersault on the rug.

But preschool in this struggling Utah district is far from ordinary. Granite is the first district in the nation to be financed by private investors who pay upfront for preschool seats, and make a profit if enough of the district’s “at-risk” kids succeed.

The controversial financing tool, often referred to as a social impact bond, has allowed this cash-strapped district, one of five in the Salt Lake City area, to provide high-quality early education to thousands of poor 3- and 4-year-olds who might have otherwise stayed home.

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The Importance of Investing in the Early Years (National Association of Counties)

Seek innovative, alternative funding strategies and revenue streams. Early intervention and prevention programs can have a large budgetary impact. How do you create systemic change when budgets are tight and procurement processes are burdensome? Expand your capacity by leveraging funds from a local or state tax. Explore private sector investments through Social Impact Bonds or Pay for Success awards. Learn more about opportunities to partner with local philanthropic organizations, economic development authorities or higher educational systems. Set consistent time aside to search for potential grant opportunities.

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Future of PFS: Expanding access to high-quality preschool in Tempe, Arizona (Urban Institute)

While there are around 80 pay for success (PFS) projects under development in the US, only 20 have formally launched. Others may never launch, because for one reason or another, PFS financing isn’t the best option for those projects. Our 2017 National Symposium on the Future of Pay for Success featured a panel on what happens when PFS projects turn out to not be feasible. Our speakers, including Marie Raymond of Tempe, Arizona, highlighted the value of exploring PFS feasibility—regardless of the end result. We asked Raymond to share her story of how even though Tempe’s PFS project did not pan out, its feasibility study ultimately informed a new pilot project to expand access to high-quality preschool.

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Why do Politicians Feel Free to Hack Away at Special Education? (Huffington Post)

The rights of children who need special education services are not an “unnecessary regulatory burden,” as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated when explaining why 72 guidance documents for special education programs were being dropped. Nor are they a way for Chicago Public Schools to save money as social impact bonds and a secret special education manual have attempted to do. Whenever budgets need to be trimmed, the civil rights of children with special needs are on the chopping block.

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Third Sector and AISP Partner with Five Governments to Improve Outcomes for Vulnerable Families and Children (Third Sector Capital Partners)

With the support of a 2016 Social Innovation Fund grant of $2.4 million over three years, Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. (“Third Sector”) and Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (“AISP”) at the University of Pennsylvania will provide five governments with the technical assistance to develop both Integrated Data Systems (IDS) and a flexible, scalable contracting model based on measurable outcomes. This effort is an important first step in transforming these governments’ capacity to target valuable resources to serve the two-generation needs of vulnerable children and families.

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For a struggling Colorado school district, full-day preschool — and the unusual way it’s paid for — shows promise (Chalkbeat)

Westminster Public Schools dipped its toes into Pay For Success waters last year, offering full-day preschool to 112 4-year-olds at seven elementary schools. Two foundations — Gary Community Investments and the Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation — put up a combined half million dollars for the project.

(The Walton Family Foundation and Gary Community Investments — through the Piton Foundation — are Chalkbeat funders).

Westminster’s pilot is not a full-fledged Pay For Success transaction because the state is not a partner in the agreement as would typically be the case. In addition, the project agreement doesn’t require the two funders to be repaid fully if the district’s full-day preschool program yields the hoped-for savings.

However, the gold standard study by outside evaluators comparing full-day and half-day preschoolers is standard Pay For Success fare. It’s also a key part of what funders and other school districts may be looking at as they consider preschool expansion efforts.

So far, Westminster’s results look good.

Full-day preschoolers there performed better than their half-day peers on a bevy of early childhood assessments that measure everything from early literacy to social and emotional development.

“We’re seeing some real statistical significance in terms of full-day (preschool),” said Mat Aubuchon, the district’s director of early childhood education.

Further evaluations over the next two years will provide more definitive results, he said.

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‘Social investment’ ready to gamble on preschool (Daily Astorian)

Clatsop County is one of five communities around the country to participate in the Way to Wellville program, which came to the county in 2014.

Moore, who serves on the group’s economic development committee, said the team considered lack of preschool in the county a significant impediment to economic development.

“If you have children but you don’t have a place for those children to go while you go to work, you may not be working,” Moore said.

Employers want to know their employees’ families are taken care of, so having high-quality preschool in the county has economic impacts, Moore said.

Long-term return

In December, the county was approved for $350,000 in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Education, he said, money which did not require local matching funds.

“Since then we’ve been doing a lot of work to see if we could in some way provide additional preschool opportunities for 600 children in our county,” Moore said.

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