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How to Start a Preschool Program Operated by a Charter School. By: Carlyn Obringer, Technical Assistance Manager, California Charter Schools Association 415-356-1200, ext. 416. Agenda. Why start a preschool program? Funding sources Licensing standards

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How to Start a Preschool Program Operated by a Charter School

By: Carlyn Obringer,

Technical Assistance Manager,

California Charter Schools Association

415-356-1200, ext. 416

  • Why start a preschool program?
  • Funding sources
  • Licensing standards
  • Staff credentialing requirements
  • Program length
  • Curriculum
  • Accreditation

The Research Is In…

  • Well-designed preschool programs serving children one or two years before kindergarten entry can:
  • Improve measures of school readiness
  • Raise academic achievement test performance in the early elementary grades
  • Provide students with academic and social skills needed to experience success in kindergarten and beyond
parent involvement
Parent Involvement
  • Charter-operated preschools can:
  • Serve as one component of a larger community development strategy
  • Help to support families in the areas of health and education counseling
  • Get parents involved in their child’s educational process as early as possible
preschool funding
Preschool Funding
  • Locating funding sources is the first issue to undertake when starting a preschool
  • Tuition-based model is the most sustainable
  • State and federal funding streams barely cover operating expenses and can be negatively impacted by budget cuts
  • Private donations and annual fundraising can help cover additional costs and sustain and grow programs
preschool funding state
Preschool Funding: State
  • CDE is the most likely source of Pre-K funding
  • Funding targets children from economically disadvantaged families or other risk factors
cde administered child development programs
CDE-Administered Child Development Programs
  • Alternative Payment Program
  • CalWORKS
  • California State Preschool Program
  • Prekindergarten and Family Literacy
  • Migrant Child Care and Development
  • California School Age Families
  • Education

Alternative Payment Program

  • Aims to increase parental choice
  • APP providers arrange and make payment for services directly to a preschool program
  • Charter-operated preschools can receive reimbursement dollars on a regular monthly basis for eligible children by partnering with an established APP provider
  • The Statewide Standard Reimbursement Rate is $685 per child per month
  • Contact a local APP provider and request inclusion on their list of approved child care centers
california work opportunity responsibility to kids
California Work Opportunity & Responsibility to Kids
  • Administered by the California Department of Social Services through county welfare departments
  • Refers families to resource agencies to find preschool programs offering wraparound care
  • Some CWDs pay Pre-Kindergarten providers directly for services
  • Others sub-contract with APPs for payment
part day state preschool program
Part-day State Preschool Program
  • Supports part-day preschool programs
  • Funded at the rate of $21.22 per student, per day
  • Must operate for at least 175 days a year
  • Must operate a minimum of 3 hours, but less than
  • 4 hours
  • At least 50 % of the children enrolled must be 4
  • Can receive funding for two sets of students, if
  • operating separate morning and afternoon sessions

Full-day State Preschool Program

  • Supports full-day Pre-Kindergarten programs
  • Must operate for at least 246 days a year
  • Funded at the rate of $34.38 per student, per day
  • At least 50 % of the children enrolled must be 4
  • Higher rate of funding available per child requiring more care
prekindergarten and family literacy program
Prekindergarten and Family Literacy Program
  • Supports half-day (CPKP) and full-day (CPKF) programs
  • CPKP is funded at $21.22 per child, per day
  • CPKF is funded at $21.22 per child for the 1st 4 hours of the day and at $34.38 for the 2nd part of the day and for any day the program is operated beyond the regular school year

Pre-K and Family Literacy Program (Continued)

  • Must be located in attendance area of elementary schools in deciles 1 to 3
  • At least 50 % of the children enrolled must be 4
  • Children served must come from families that meet income eligibility criteria
  • Half-day programs must operate at least 175 days
  • Full-day programs must operate at least 246 days
state funding requirements
State Funding Requirements
  • To benefit from state funding:
  • A preschool must adhere to Title 5 licensing requirements
  • Undergo an ECERS-R Assessment
  • All curriculum must meet CDE standards
  • Programs must be fully enrolled

State Funding Availability

  • Partnering with an Alternative Payment Program or a county welfare department is always an option
  • State Preschool Program funds are only accessible at times determined by state budget conditions
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest available funding opportunities by signing up for the CDE Funding mailing list at:
preschool funding tuition
Preschool Funding: Tuition
  • Many schools charge tuition for preschool
  • Options include:
  • Charging full tuition
  • Charging a sliding scale fee indexed to family incomes for the wraparound care provided during a full day
  • Offering a before-and-after school program, with the preschool offered as a fee for service
preschool funding philanthropy
Preschool Funding: Philanthropy
  • Identify foundations with a history of or an interest in funding a preschool program
  • Not all foundations fund all program aspects
  • A charter may need to piece together funds for the various aspects of its preschool from a number of sources
  • Experienced charters recommend approaching potential funders as early as possible
child care licensing standards
Child Care Licensing Standards
  • All Pre-Kindergarten programs must be licensed by the California Community Care Licensing Division
  • The Division complies with Title 22 regulations

Licensing for Preschools Receiving State Funds

  • State funded Pre-Kindergarten programs must adhere to Title 5 licensing requirements which have stricter:
  • Teacher-child ratios
  • Adult-child ratios
  • AND
  • Teacher permitting requirements

Licensing Process

  • Involves at least a year of preparation
  • Includes :
  • Attending a series of orientations covering the child care center license application process
  • Filling out and filing an application booklet
  • Submitting a non-refundable application fee
application materials
Application Materials
  • Required Application Materials Include:
  • Application for Child Care Center License
  • Criminal Record Statement
  • Designation of Facility Responsibility
  • Administrative Organization
  • Monthly Operating Statement
  • Balance Sheet
  • Financial Release and Verification
  • Personnel Report
  • Health Verification
  • Emergency Disaster Plan
  • Earthquake Preparedness Checklist
  • Facility Sketch
  • Local Fire Inspection Authority Information

Supportive Documentation

  • Required Supportive Documentation Includes:
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Verification of preschool director and teacher Early Childhood Education (ECE) units and director’s units in administration or staff relations
  • Job Descriptions
  • Personnel Policies
  • In-service Training for Staff
  • Parent Handbook
  • Schedule of Daily Activities
  • Admission Agreement
  • Sample Menu
  • List of Furniture/Play Equipment
  • Control of Property
  • Bacteriological Analysis of Private Water Supply
licensing process continued
Licensing Process (Continued)
  • All application materials must be submitted within 90 days
  • Incomplete application notification will be sent after 90 days
  • Applications not completed within 30 days of such notice shall be deemed withdrawn
  • Applications meeting all requirements shall be issued a license for a specific capacity
  • The Community Care Licensing Division can issue a provisional license for a maximum of 90 days
tips for successful licensing
Tips for Successful Licensing
  • Helpful to develop a good relationship with a state licensing representative before starting a preschool
  • Close collaboration with a state licensing representative can help a preschool open on time
  • It can be beneficial to hire a consultant to assist with the license application
  • A good licensing consultant will meet regularly with Pre-Kindergarten staff members and can help determine the program’s capacity and review the proposed facility ahead of application submission

Credentials & Certifications

  • A charter-operated preschool must provide evidence that its staff members are properly credentialed
  • The director, teacher and teacher aide must complete courses in accordance with Title 22 before working at a preschool
  • State subsidized preschools must meet Title 5 requirements which set stricter staff qualifications than Title 22
title 22 preschool director certification
Title 22: Preschool Director Certification
  • • High School Diploma or GED
  • • 15 semester units in Early Childhood Education (ECE), with at least 3 units in Administration/Staff relations and 12 units in Early Childhood Development
  • • Four years teaching experience in a licensed child care center
  • OR
  • • Two years of experience if the director has an AA degree with a major in child development
  • OR
  • • Child Development Site Supervisor permit or Child Development Program Director permit issued by the CCTC
  • AND
  • CPR/First Aid Certification
title 5 preschool director certification
Title 5: Preschool Director Certification
  • • Children’s Center Supervision
  • OR
  • • Child Development Program Director Permit
  • =
  • BA
  • 24 units of ECE/CD
  • 6 units in administration
  • 2 units of adult supervision

Title 22: Fully Qualified Instructor Certification

  • • 2 postsecondary semester units in ECE classes covering child growth and development
  • • 6 months of work experience in a licensed child care center
  • • 15 hours of health and safety training

Title 5: Teacher

  • • Child Development Teacher Permit
  • =
  • • 24 units of ECE/CD
  • • 16 General Education units
teacher aide qualifications
Teacher Aide Qualifications

• 18 years of age

• High school diploma


• Participating in an occupational program at high school


Optional Certifications

  • Teachers:
  • • CPR/First Aid Certification
  • Child Development Associate credential
  • Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education
  • Teacher Aides:
  • Six Early Childhood Education approved units
teacher recruitment
Teacher Recruitment
  • Post openings with the chartering district’s HR department
  • Attend job fairs at trade schools and colleges
  • Place assistant Pre-K teachers in a pool for consideration of full-time teaching positions upon completion of a childhood education program
  • Advertise jobs on EDJOIN
  • Contact Teach for America
problem teacher retention
Problem: Teacher Retention
  • Retaining highly qualified preschool instructors is challenging because:
  • Salaries are lower than those of K-12 instructors
  • The more qualified the instructor, the higher the salary a school must pay
  • New teachers train with a good preschool, then leave for a place where they can earn more money

Solution: Equitable Compensation & Benefits

  • Offering equitable compensation and benefits for teachers and their families can:
  • Help recruit and retain highly qualified instructors
  • Stabilize the work environment by reducing turnover
  • Stem the high burnout rate common among Pre-K workers
length of program
Length of Program
  • Program options include:
  • Half-day
  • Full-day
  • Half-day with wraparound care
  • Some combination of the three
  • Full-day strictly educational program

Example: Half-Day w/Optional Wraparound Care

Option 1: Child attends free half-day Pre-K program, then goes home

Option 2: Child attends free half-day Pre-K , then stays for day care, where tuition is charged

Option 3: Child attends free half-day Pre-K, then stays for free day care, both funded by the California State Preschool Program

Note: Maintaining full enrollment of a half-day program is becoming more difficult as many families have two working parents

length of program continued
Length of Program (Continued)
  • Program length is often subject to funding
  • confines
  • Sustainable funding is needed:
  • To offer wraparound services
  • To expand from a half-day to a full-day
  • program for low-income families, without
  • charging tuition


  • Preschools receiving state funding must implement Prekindergarten Learning Development Guidelines established by the CDE including:
  • Supporting children’s social and emotional development
  • Providing for the development of each child’s cognitive and language skills
  • Promoting each child’s physical development via sufficient time, indoor & outdoor space, equipment, materials & guidelines for active play & movement
curriculum continued
Curriculum (continued)
  • California Preschool Learning Foundations released in January 2008
  • Aligned with California’s Kindergarten Standards
  • Provide a clear understanding of what children should know after completing their first or second year of preschool
  • Implementation required by 2011-2012 school year, by all state-funded Pre-K programs
pre k curricular approaches
Pre-K Curricular Approaches
  • Curricular approaches for Pre-K students include:
  • Creative Curriculum
  • Dual language immersion
  • Montessori
  • Reggio Emilia
  • Waldorf


  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R) assesses the quality of a preschool environment
  • Required for state-funded Pre-K programs
  • Minimal scores can be used: 1) to indicate areas for emphasis in training and learning
  • 2) as a pre and post test measure to assess the impact of teacher training and continuing education
  • and each item is ranked from 1 (inadequate) to 7 (excellent).
ecers r continued
ECERS-R (continued)
  • Features a 43 item scale covering:
  •  Personal Care Routines Space and Furnishings Language-Reasoning Activities Interactions
  •  Program Structure
  •  Parents and Staff
  • Each item is ranked from 1 (inadequate) to 7 (excellent)

Program Accreditation

  • Not required
  • Way to differentiate charter-operated preschool programs as providers of high quality early childhood education
  • Can serve as a means of accountability
  • Recommended as a best practice
one option naeyc accreditation
One Option: NAEYC Accreditation
  • To achieve accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, preschool programs must:
  • Serve a minimum of 10 children
  • Operate for at least one year
  • Have proof of a license
  • Certify inspection by local fire and health authorities
  • Certify that all state and federal laws concerning background checks for staff have been complied with
  • Certify that no individuals convicted of a crime involving sexual abuse or child abuse or neglect have been employed
  • Meet NAEYC's 10 early childhood program standards
  • No cookie cutter approach to starting a charter-operated preschool
  • Securing a stable funding stream can be challenging
  • Retaining highly qualified teachers is tough
  • Carefully considering what length of program you can feasibly offer is important
  • Accreditation can help differentiate charter-operated preschools

It’s worth it!

  • Numerous studies have demonstrated that preschool can:
  • Help prevent learning difficulties
  • Diminish the need for costly remediation
  • SO…
  • All the effort is worth it!