An Analysis Of Early Childhood Developmental Program Accessibility And Parental Desires: A Survey Of Kalamazoo Northside Parents
BACKGROUND: During early childhood, the brain establishes capacity for cognitive, motor, emotional, and language development. Out of an estimated 621 children ages 0-4 in Northside Kalamazoo, only 54 children were enrolled in health and education programs.
PURPOSE: The goal of this study is to identify what programs would be most beneficial, how to connect parents with programs, and what barriers exist.
METHODS: This study is a retrospective secondary analysis of anonymous questionnaires conducted by the YWCA-Kalamazoo. A sample of 69 parents/caregivers of children ages 0-4 living in Northside Kalamazoo neighborhoods participated, providing brief written responses to six open-ended questions. Thematic analysis was completed using, first, categorization and, second, thematic coding across categories. Themes were validated using cross-coder consensus.
RESULTS: Currently, 90% of parents identified they would like programs, information, and support while only 39.1% of families are participating in a program. Parents chiefly desire social support (45%) and programs centered on education (40.5%), child care (37.7%), and health/development (26.1%). Parents cite multiple barriers including program factors (34.8%), transportation (24.6%), and finances (23.2%).
CONCLUSION: Efforts to improve access to enrichment programs for young children on the Northside need to utilize a community-based approach, integrate high-quality childcare, and address logistical barriers to access. Evidence based interventions that accomplish these goals include: home visitation and group-based parenting programs for 0-2 year olds, high quality center-based preschool with wrap-around supports for 3-to-4 year-olds, and full-day Kindergarten for 5-year-olds.