Girl playing in the park

Educare Learning Network

Networkwide data, analyses and shared research findings conducted by Educare Learning Network evaluation partners.

In 2000, Start Early developed the first Educare school to serve the children and families rebuilding their community after the demolition of the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest public housing developments in Chicago. Since then, we’ve partnered with diverse communities and early childhood champions across the country to build a national network of 25 birth-through-five Educare schools and improve access to high-quality early learning and care across the country.

Collaboration is the core ingredient powering the work of Educare schools. Each school leverages public-private partnerships as a Head Start and Early Head Start provider, bringing together local school districts, philanthropic organizations, researchers, policymakers and families. These dynamic partnerships comprise the Educare Learning Network and drive continuous improvement and positive student outcomes. Unique research-practice partnerships (RPPs) between researchers/evaluators and Educare program leaders and staff support data-driven practice and decision making and inform policy decisions across the country.

We act as the national coordinating office for the Educare Learning Network to generate resources, highlight and share Network innovations and solve practice and policy challenges.

Our research team also serves as the local evaluation partner for the first school in the Network, Educare Chicago, where it leads a Follow-Up Study to examine the progress of former Educare Chicago students and families. We also facilitate leadership and support across all components of the Network’s work, with a specific focus on sharing the research findings and data within and outside the Network.

Here we share an overview of the data, analyses and shared research findings through Networkwide evaluations we conducted in partnership with a nationwide team of researchers committed to improving outcomes for children and families in early education and care settings.

Key Findings

  • Findings from a randomized study of Educare indicated that at approximately two years of age, Educare children had significantly higher language skills, fewer behavioral challenges and more positive interactions with parents compared to children from similar backgrounds who did not attend Educare.
  • Another Educare study found that children who enrolled in Educare earlier and stayed in the program longer had stronger vocabulary skills compared to children who enrolled at older ages and did not stay in the program as long. This finding was even more pronounced for dual language learners.
  • Descriptive data from the Networkwide evaluation showed that at kindergarten entry, the majority of Educare children were academically, socially and emotionally prepared for kindergarten and exhibited average or above average school readiness and social and emotional skills.
  • Evaluation findings also demonstrated that Educare parents engaged in learning activities with their children more often than non-Educare parents from similar backgrounds with children in other early learning programs.
  • According to evaluation results, Educare staff provided higher quality interactions and instruction in classrooms that were rated higher on global quality measures compared to other early childhood programs serving children living in under-resourced communities.
  • A longitudinal study in one Educare school showed that at Kindergarten entry, close to half of Educare graduates were rated as average for their kindergarten readiness, and more than a quarter were rated above average or excellent. Moreover, Educare graduates maintained their vocabulary and social and emotional skills relative to their same-age peers through third grade.

Publications & Resources

Research & Evaluation Team & Collaborators


  • Buffet Early Childhood Fund