Child care programs and projects in Nevada that collectively received $231 million in Child Care Development Block Grant funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act – Child Care and Development Fund Discretionary Supplement are now undergoing an evaluation by University of Nevada, Reno Extension to help the state determine future priorities and funding. Extension has been awarded $2.4 million by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Welfare and Supportive Services to help the state assess child care programs and projects being implemented in Nevada’s communities from the infusion of funds.
“As the final sunset date for pandemic-related child care funds approaches in September 2024, the state intends to use clear evaluation results to understand which programs and projects have most effectively made a positive impact on Nevada’s early childhood care and education system,” said Karissa Loper Machado, agency manager for Child Care and Development within the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. “DHHS/DWSS will use the evaluation results provided by Extension to inform future planning and program sustainability efforts under the Child Care and Development Block Grant.”
Extension will be evaluating the effectiveness of programs that received funding for a variety of purposes, such as training for child care providers and helping to increase the number of licensed child care providers throughout Nevada; increasing awareness of support services for providers and families, including tuition or grants for child care; and increasing participation in child and adult care food programs, afterschool networks and youth literacy.
“Extension values its ability to serve as a resource for state agencies in addition to providing programming,” Extension Director Jake DeDecker said. “We’ve been focusing on expanding our partnerships with state agencies, the counties and others to provide evaluation, feasibility studies, economic impact research and more.”
Najat Elgeberi, Extension evaluation specialist, leads the team of 11 professionals who were hired to conduct the assessment. As part of the grant over the next year the project team will evaluate more than 40 projects statewide, looking at the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, sustainability and impact of each. This assessment will include surveys, focus groups, site visits, observations and interviews.
“At Extension, we believe that our role is not just to deliver programs to the communities, but also to assure that programs are functioning well and benefiting the citizens of Nevada,” Elgeberi said. “This grant will contribute to the continuation of projects and programs that have a real impact on child care providers and families in Nevada.”
While conducting the assessments, Elgeberi explained that the team evaluates by establishing metrics to apply as they look at each program.
“Our role is to determine several criteria,” she said. “So, for example, we will ask, ‘Is the project needed? How did they decide it is a need in the community? Does that reason still apply? Could they implement this in a way that’s more efficient?’ as just a few examples.”
As projects vary in type, the team must decide how best to apply the assessment criteria. In the instance of trainings that were conducted for child care providers, for example, Elgeberi said the team looks at its application.
“We don’t just want to know if somebody who received training remembers what they were taught, but we want to know if they are applying what they learned as they work with children,” Elgeberi said.
Extension will deliver a final evaluation report and communication plan to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Child Care and Development Program in the fall of 2024.
For more information, contact Elgeberi by email or at 702-257-5527.