Teaching Case - Starting Small, Reaching High: The Parents as Teachers National Center's Quest for Growth with Quality (B)

Starting Small, Reaching High: The Parents as Teachers National Center's Quest for Growth with Quality (B)


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  • Product Description

    In the early 1980s, Missouri'’s director of early childhood education launched a novel parent education pilot project designed to increase children’'s kindergarten readiness and support family well-being by sending specially trained educators on monthly home visits to help parents foster their babies’ early development. By 1985, when an evaluation touted strong results for the pilot, the Missouri legislature already had made the program —dubbed Parents as Teachers— a mandatory offering of school districts statewide. Soon after, the St. Louis-based Parents as Teachers National Center, formed to oversee the state program and respond to outside inquiries, became an independent nonprofit. From the start, the National Center staff built quality controls into program design and the training of parent educators while simultaneously embracing rapid growth; by 1999 Parents as Teachers programs served more than 500,000 children in the US and six foreign countries. But despite such quality control efforts, the flexibility and adaptability that aided fast replication left the National Center with no effective way to manage or monitor the more than 2,000 sites worldwide. As a result, the National Center was forced to take a hard look at its replication model, its oversight role, and at how the center could better monitor and improve program quality.

    Learning Objective:
    This two-case series allows discussion of key issues facing growing nonprofits, in particular, weighing the trade-offs inherent in different replication strategies; managing the tension between rapid growth and quality control; and analyzing how political and funding constraints can impact program design.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: October 06, 2006
    HKS Case Number: 1850.0
    Case Author: Susan Rosegrant
    Faculty Lead: Christine Letts
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 15
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Roy and Lila Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation
    _year: 2000-2009
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
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