Educare Project REACH
The Project REACH (Rural EArly CHildhood) Institute was designed to address the critical needs of some of Missouri’s most vulnerable young children – those living in rural poverty. In 1994, Project REACH was introduced in a select few rural communities to provide a comprehensive system of education, training, and support for rural child care providers that also reached out to parents, community social service agencies, and local school personnel to ensure that young children receive a full range of educational and related services necessary for optimal development.
Project REACH is now a Missouri Department of Social Services’ Educare Program. The vision of Educare is that all child care and early learning programs will have knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices and the skills to implement comprehensive early childhood programming to support children’s development and strengthen families. The mission of Educare is to support, educate, and provide resources to improve the program quality of child care and learning programs serving children receiving child care assistance.
Today, Project REACH provides on-site, individualized technical assistance and training in over 50 counties (mostly rural) to almost 500 child care providers, in over 300 child care and early learning programs, caring for nearly 4,000 children. Project REACH also offers child care providers:
- Networking opportunities
- Support for movement towards program licensure
- Resource handouts
- Program safety and basic caregiving items
- Children’s books and other educational materials
- Attendance and Payment Accuracy for Child Care Providers Training
Project REACH is coordinated from a central office at the University of Missouri in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. The Project REACH Professional Development Associates who implement the program are indigenous to the counties and understand the unique characteristics of the communities that they serve. They have an educational background in early childhood development/education and experience working with children and/or staff of a child care and early learning program.