Ready by Five Evaluation

Beginning in 2021, First Steps Kent (FSK) has contracted with Basis Policy Research (Basis), a K-12 research, and evaluation firm headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan to evaluate the implementation and impact of the Ready by Five Millage.

Basis believes that equitable evaluation practices will help FSK further its goals of effectively serving children and families in Kent County; therefore, embedding a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens in all elements of the evaluation design to ensure that the research questions, instrument development, stakeholder engagement, and reporting strategies advance equity for families and children of color and historically marginalized communities in Kent County. Basis will collaborate with Advancing Communities for Equity (ACE) throughout the evaluation to accomplish this aim.

Basis researchers will use a mixed-methodology approach to provide FSK with evidence of Ready by Five implementation and impact across the lifecycle of the millage. The Ready by Five evaluation will address the following questions:

  1. To what extent did Ready by Five providers implement services with fidelity?
  2. What types of Ready by Five services are related to improved health and academic outcomes?
  3. What is the impact of Ready by Five services on participants’ health and academic outcomes?
  4. How do the benefits of Ready by Five services compare to the financial investment of the Ready by Five millage?

Goals of the Evaluation

The evaluation will support improvements with service delivery.

The findings will provide programs with information for how they may continually refine their delivery models in pursuit of providing more equitable services to children and families. Results will also inform the support FSK offers Ready by Five providers in the shared pursuit of offering equitable early childhood services.

This evaluation will support future investment decisions.

FSK will be able to leverage findings from the analyses to refine the RFP process to ensure service providers address the barriers to engagement in services, particularly for children and families from historically marginalized communities.

The evaluation will provide information about the impact of Ready by Five services on health and academic outcomes, including what types of services work, for whom, and under what conditions. The results will provide local early childhood leaders with information about the types of services that need to be retained or expanded in Kent County.

Results will provide evidence of different stakeholder groups who benefit from Ready by Five services and enhance service providers’ recruitment efforts with individuals from stakeholder groups who have hesitated to use services in the past.

The evaluation will support the future case for early childhood investments.

Results will provide evidence of impact on health and academic outcomes that contribute to the cost-effectiveness of early childhood services, as well as the overall community value of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage.

Agencies selected to support the Ready by Five evaluation include:

Basis Policy Research was selected as they have extensive experience evaluating publicly- and privately funded education and human services initiatives in numerous states and more than 50 local communities, including Kent County. Locally, Basis has completed a quantitative evaluation and return on investment analysis for the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation Learning Educators Initiative. Basis has also evaluated the impact of the Believe 2 Become Baby Scholars program in Kent County and Ottawa County’s Great Start Readiness Program, a state-funded preschool for four-year-old children. At the state level, Basis evaluated the Michigan Department of Education’s Statewide System of Support, which works with Intermediate School Districts.

Advancing Communities for Equity has been selected to support equitable evaluation practices of all aspects of funding allocations; program content, methodology, and outcomes; power dynamics; decision making; and communications. Principal, Emmy O’Dwyer is nationally recognized for her expertise in early childhood education, organizational development, and strategic planning. Her work is focused on advancing equity and access for children, youth, and their families.

Want to know more? Here are some frequently asked questions about the evaluation. 

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