In 2015, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Starting Smart and Strong initiative set out on a ten-year mission to improve the quality of adult-child interactions in three California locations—Fresno, San Jose, and Oakland—with the aim of helping ensure all children ages 0-5 grow up healthy and ready to learn. The initiative has enhanced the training and resources available to the adults in children’s lives, including professional development for educators, outreach and resources for the family, friends and neighbors who spend time caring for these children, and support for public-private collaborations. New America has been tracking the progress of the initiative, and in this report, examines what the three communities have accomplished so far, and what challenges remain.
The report concludes that although it will take some time to understand the full impact on children in each community, early signals of progress are pointing to positive results. New America also identifies approaches that have helped these communities be successful, like building on expertise that already exists, and putting equity at the heart of the work. The report concludes that scaling success remains the biggest challenge for all three communities: although philanthropic funding can kickstart the process, school districts and community organizations need leadership, funding, and much bigger changes to make a difference for all children in these settings, and eventually for children throughout California.