“The community coalitions were equally blown away. They heard things they hadn’t heard before. It had a lot of impact in Brownsville, because the programming [frog is] coming up with really reflects the concerns about community spaces, such as fostering more places to take children. The community really absorbed that information.”
Deb McCoy, Managing Director, Early Childhood & Youth at Robin Hood Foundation
Partnering with community coalitions South Bronx Rising Together and Brownsville United, frog conducted a design research initiative to collect community perspectives around parenting goals, strengths and needs. The insights and recommendations informed how Robin Hood’s Fund for Early Learning (F.U.E.L.) could better serve early childhood development outcomes in the communities of the South Bronx and Brownsville.
Parenting in Context
It’s impossible to isolate early learning from the context of the community. The parents we met expressed a fundamental struggle with poverty—not parenting. Through our interviews, we met parents that were determined, resilient and striving to provide a stable foundation for their children’s development.
Goals Are Strengths
Workshop discussions illustrated how parents set goals for themselves as well as for their children. They aspire to model the lives they want their children to lead, and they work to prepare their children for each step of their development. The community coalitions set goals as well. They’re committed to building “pathways of success from cradle through college and career.”
Strengths Are Opportunities
Parents are enthusiastic about extending their strengths and developing new ones. Coordinated services can clear the path of institutionalized barriers that impede the developmental bond between parent and child. For example, access to high-quality, affordable, reliable childcare unlocks multiple paths to achieving parents’ goals. Parents need confidence that the children in their lives are safe and secure in order to provide the best support for a child’s developmental growth.
A New Investing Paradigm
By including parents as participants in their strategy, Robin Hood’s human-centered design practice allows parents’ voices to directly inform the focus of investments in their communities. The close partnerships with community coalitions facilitated by frog ensures successful outcomes in early childhood development, as well as a positive impact on the lives and communities they serve.
frog, in partnership with Blue Ridge Labs, South Bronx Rising Together and Brownsville United, connected with over 50 parents via contextual interviews, group interviews and community intercepts.
We then presented a community research assessment, featuring contextual analysis, parents’ perspectives and opportunities to support early childhood development at institutional and community levels.
The resulting research report was distributed to NYC Children’s Cabinet, Robin Hood’s research partners, community coalitions, and the executive board of the Fund for Early Learning.
frog’s documentation of community successes and parents’ goals informed year-end reporting as well as grant applications and success criteria for 2018 funding. Robin Hood–funded programs continue to utilize the recommendations from this research to improve service to families in their communities.
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