The best way to help kids succeed and get out of poverty is through high quality early education. We make this possible.
Knowing that …
• 90 % of a child’s brain develops in the first five years of life
• The majority of young children are in some form of childcare during the working hours
• The quality of a child’s experiences from birth to age five greatly influences his or her success later in life.
Shouldn’t we make it possible for all children to have access to quality early childhood experiences?
Think Small™ is dedicated to advancing quality care and education of children in their crucial early years. The agency’s vision is that children entering school will be well prepared for learning success and well supported in reaching grade three reading targets. Founded in 1971 by community members concerned about the lack of affordable, organized and accessible early childhood programs, Think Small today annually delivers a full range of services to over 40,000 parents, educators, and providers. As an intermediary and innovator, Think Small develops cost efficient methods to ensure school readiness and early school success.
- Support families in accessing quality care and education for children
- Build the knowledge and skills of early childhood professionals to assure quality
- Improve the system of early care and education by catalyzing strong partnerships and maintain a firm focus on underserved communities
- Lead advocacy and civic engagement efforts statewide
Major Programs and Activities
- Parent Education and Referral. Think Small is a trusted partner for parents with children entering child care so that they do not have to go through it alone. Decision-making can be overwhelming, and too often focus on factors that have little correlation to the child or the program quality, such as “what does the program cost?” and “where is it?” The agency draws on 40 years of experience as a referral agency, providing in-depth consultation to families using indicators of quality to help them choose what best meets their children’s needs.
- Professional Development and Consultation. The quality of child care and education is dependent on the skills of the caregiver. In over 40 community locations, classes and workshops develop the skills of early childhood professionals. Topics range from child development, assessment tools and curriculum planning to relationship building between providers and parents, health and safety. In cases where additional support is needed, staff provide consultation and technical assistance. This early investment of time helps create an improved environment for children.
- Financial Supports. Think Small administers financial support programs for providers and families including quality improvement grants and emergency funding for early childhood programs based on citizen reviewer recommendations, an eligibility-based scholarship pilot program for families to enroll children in programs rated highly in Minnesota’s Parent Aware quality rating system, and Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance for eligible low income families.
- Publishing. As a leading national and international publisher of curriculum, management and business resources for early childhood professionals, Redleaf Press publishes a broad range of topics designed to assist teachers in providing a stimulating, child-centered curriculum based on sound and accepted theory.
- Leadership. Think Small has advanced major policy initiatives in the state such as the Parent Aware quality rating system. The agency’s executive director chairs Minnesota’s Early Learning Council and was leader of the successful “Race to The Top” federal award competition to implement Minnesota’s Early Childhood Plan. Think Small is responsible for Parent Aware implementation in the metro area and supports the statewide rollout.