Community Day School Association Programs
CDSA operates six preschool programs, nine before and after school programs, and nine summer-long learning camp programs, all located within Seattle Public Schools.
Families who enter our program are entering a network of assistance which supports long term results. We have an ‘alignment agreement’ with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) of free rent in return for aligning our math, literacy, and science curriculum. Additionally, our curriculum incorporates learning activities in art, drama, dance, music, nature, and personal health – all areas impacted by public school and other public sector cut-backs. We collaborate with SPS on many levels, including sharing SPS nurses, family support workers, and translators. Often SPS teachers refer families to CDSA, where children receive positive adult mentorship and learning to supplement their school day.
CDSA's strategy for success relies on our highly qualified staff team, over half of whom hold Bachelors or Masters Degrees in Education. Our staff team is bilingual in 11 languages, and reflect the communities we serve. Over time, public schools have relied increasingly on our services. At CDSA we individualize our learning plans for children, noting some children need equal help learning to socialize with peers as they do with academic achievement. For all children, we focus on empowering them to grow an ‘internal compass’ to guide them toward good choices in life.
Students in our before & after school program spend nearly equal amounts of time with CDSA as they do in their SPS education. This positions us to have a deep impact on their lives. We grow core values key to lifelong academic success, such as daily homework completion, and working productively both alone and as a part of a group.
The best education is multi-faceted, and over time, public schools have relied increasingly on our services. At CDSA we teach empathy through arts and drama, self-expression through music and dance, and science through nature walks, cooking, and gardening. We individualize our learning plans for children, noting that some children need equal help learning to socialize with peers as they do with academic achievement. For all children, we focus on decision-making, and empowering them to grow an ‘internal compass’ to guide them toward good choices in life.
Our region faces a widening learning disparity for children from low income families and families of color. Statistics show that by third grade a child’s likelihood of graduating from high school can be determined with such accuracy that prison construction plans rely on this data. This is because dropping out of high school is so closely correlated with crime. Simply put, we’re in a funding race to help as many children as we can, while they are young enough to fully flourish from our assistance. Early intervention is far more effective, and far less costly, than waiting until a child has failed in school. Our program helps change the course of a child’s life.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Six months ago, CDSA initialed a new collaborative group called Seattle Elementary Alignment Team (SEAT) to increase the collective impact of on-site providers who share ‘alignment agreements’ with SPS. Over 30 providers have joined SEAT, and the group has recently received funding support from the Gates Foundation for its first year of formation. Common goals for the group include determining mutually agreed upon outcomes for before and after school programs, and designing and implementing tools for measuring and sharing this data. The group is also sharing professional development expenses for the Youth Program Quality Assessment training tool for school age programs, which will help all providers by establishing a common quality standard. The work of this group will have an exciting impact on CDSA by increasing our effectiveness through better data driven program management, and increased opportunity for yearly outcome based ‘course correction’ to our curriculum. The group will also help the overall field of before and afterschool extended learning by helping providers to better speak with one voice.
CDSA is unique in offering highest quality nationally accredited (NAEYC) programs which are specifically targeted to Seattle’s underserved children. Most quality programs commonly set limits of 10-15%, if they accept children on subsidies at all, because subsidy rates in Washington fall so short of the true cost of care. Equal access for low income families is being put to the test now more than ever. In the last two years CDSA has been impacted by a $58,000 decline in the tuition reimbursement we receive from the state. Additionally, we face record levels of outside of school services needed for children.