Racine , WI
Analyzing data and organizing community engagement sessions to identify the barriers to early childhood education access faced by families living in formerly redlined areas of Racine, Wisconsin.
In the largest and most diverse school district in Racine County, Wisconsin, enrollment in early childhood education is declining. An initiative of the United Way of Racine County, Higher Expectations for Racine County (Higher Expectations) seeks to identify the barriers that limit families’ access to early childhood services, which are a critical component of educational achievement and community health. By building a better understanding of existing barriers, Higher Expectations hopes to identify communitywide policy changes that will reduce inequities in Racine’s historically redlined neighborhoods.
Higher Expectations will focus on families living in historically redlined neighborhoods to ensure that its work centers on communities that have been most affected by systemic racism. The project will begin with an analysis of the share of eligible children who are enrolled in early childhood education programs, as well as an affordability measure of early childhood education within each of these neighborhoods. To supplement these data with qualitative findings, a community power consultant will conduct engagement sessions in each neighborhood focused on eliciting first-hand accounts about barriers to early childhood education and resources. Higher Expectations will analyze these responses in a spatial context, which is intended to connect findings to geographic commonalities that can serve as limiting factors such as transportation access or proximity to heavy industry. The engagement sessions will include brainstorms with residents about potential solutions and neighborhood action plans.
Higher Expectations will produce a final data handout with the results of its analyses, incorporate feedback from community members on proposed solutions, and hold an event to share the results with community leaders. With the support of these data and networks built throughout the project, community stakeholders will be better equipped to create policy recommendations, including on budget decisions by local government partners. The findings will also help the City of Racine implement effective programs for economic inclusion and community development and will support Racine Unified School District’s early learning programs and the county Department of Human Services prenatal and parenting programs.