Student Fellowship

Assessing Gaps in and Barriers to Early Childhood Development

Project Area:

Early Childhood Development


Chillicothe, OH

Reporting to:


The Challenge

In the 2019-2020 school year, only 30.5% of students at Chillicothe City Schools demonstrated kindergarten readiness. With the city and county experiencing high poverty rates, low educational attainment, and low household income, early childhood education has the potential for long-term impact on the community and is a key mayoral priority. The city is collaborating with the local school district to explore opportunities for pre-K education—including both preschool and quality childcare. Independent programs have been launched throughout Chillicothe and Ross County to provide early childhood development opportunities. However, the city suspects that early childhood education programs are currently underutilized and would like to understand the extent of underutilization and the barriers to utilization. An understanding of the root problems surrounding early childhood development will provide the framework to make headway on an issue with many compounding factors. A successful project would leave the city with a deeper understanding of the gaps and barriers to early childhood education and an actionable plan for the city and external partners to advance kindergarten readiness in Chillicothe.

What You’ll Do

The City of Chillicothe is looking for a fellow to gather and analyze data to better understand the extent of underutilization of early childhood education services and the underlying causes. The fellow would subsequently provide recommendations based on their findings. This is a unique opportunity to work closely with a mayor, liaise between multiple stakeholders (such as the school district and city council), and produce a set of recommendations that inform and enable action.

The Fellow will be expected to:

  • Research and analyze existing childcare/preschool capacity and utilization and provide a breakdown of utilization by family demographics and geographic location of the programs.
  • Engage and interview families not currently enrolled in early childhood programs to identify why they are not enrolling.
  • Research policy, case studies, and evidence-based practices to develop recommendations and strategies for addressing the identified barriers.

What You’ll Bring

  • Experience in and passion for early childhood education, early childcare, or similar programs
  • Data collection (including quantitative and qualitative data) and policy analysis skills
  • Design thinking skills
  • Community engagement experience
  • Strong collaboration skills
  • Communication skills
  • Chillicothe, a hub for Ross County, has ambitions to be a model for other rural cities, so visionary thinkers rooted in analysis are strongly encouraged
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