Impact and Programs
Think Small uses leading-edge knowledge from the early childhood field to create services and tools that support and strengthen the abilities of families and early childhood professionals. These include the following:
• Family Education and Referral: Referral specialists ensure that families are aware of the importance of school readiness and they provide vital information on how to identify the best care and early education options for their children. Referral specialists serve approximately 12,000 families annually.
• Professional Development, Consultation, and Coaching: Think Small provides metro-wide professional development opportunities focused on the essential elements of high quality care. Opportunities include: classes and workshops provided in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo, Amharic, and Karen; individual and site-based consultation and coaching support; business support to help maintain successful child care businesses; and career guidance for certification and licensing. During the last fiscal year, nearly 11,250 early childhood professionals were served.
• Community Outreach and Access: Think Small’s multilingual Outreach staff connect with historically underserved communities, including those in low income neighborhoods, English Language Learners, communities of color, and immigrant and refugee families so they can fully engage in Minnesota’s early childhood care and education system. Outreach staff work to expand the reach of Think Small services and identify needs and gaps within these communities. Staff assist families and providers navigating complex government systems, connecting them to resources and services available at Think Small and other organizations.
• Policy, Advocacy and Initiatives: Think Small works across the state on a grassroots level and system-wide by activating field leaders and other stakeholders across the system on issues that concern our youngest children. This includes civic engagement and parent empowerment trainings in a number of diverse cultural, refugee, and immigrant communities. Think Small also plays an important role in advancing policy initiatives such as Parent Aware and Early Learning Scholarships. By leading from the policy through the piloting stages and helping take promising initiatives to scale, the agency has helped improve access to quality early learning opportunities and helped build accountability in the system.
• Scholarships and other Financial Supports: Think Small serves providers and families with targeted financial supports. Think Small matches families with eligibility-based scholarships to enroll children in programs with Parent Aware quality ratings. We administer Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance for eligible low income families in Ramsey County. We connect providers with quality improvement grants and emergency funding for early childhood programs
• Publishing: A leading publisher of curriculum, management, professional development, and business resources for adults who care for, teach, and nurture young children, Redleaf Press publishes on a broad range of topics. These products are designed to assist early childhood professionals in using stimulating, child-centered practices based on sound and proven theory about learning and child development. Approximately 170,000 products are distributed annually to customers both here in the U.S. and abroad. Redleaf books have been translated into 19 languages. Over 100 titles have been converted into e-books and other digital formats.
• Library: The Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Library at Think Small is available statewide. Now numbering over 5,000 items, the library's collection is a part of Minnesota's public inter-library loan system and materials can be delivered to all local libraries.
We continue to work on the following in the current year:
Continue implementation of the strategic plan, which consist of the following four goals:
1. Increase awareness of and expand high quality early learning opportunities for children.
2. Create opportunities for stakeholders to learn, participate , partner and take action to improve early learning.
3. Develop, enhance, and expand solutions that stabilize and improve the quality of the early learning field.
4. Create and deliver customer-driven products and services that promote best practices in early learning.
Manage Think Small resources to provide for on-going, long term financial stability for the agency.
Continue to implement Think Small’s role as a statewide leader in early childhood education and as an intermediary organization.
Community or Constituency Served
As Minnesota’s largest early childhood organization, Think Small serves a wide range of early childhood professionals and programs, families, policy makers and community partners in order to transform the lives of thousands of children in Minnesota – particularly those in low income families – through quality early childhood education. Our Redleaf Press sells high quality early education materials around the globe, in 19 different languages.
Geographic Area Served
Think Small provides direct services to early childhood education programs and families in the Minneapolis-St. Paul 7-county metropolitan area (Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Scott, Washington, Carver, and Dakota counties) and leads early childhood education public policy, advocacy and field-building efforts statewide. The Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Library at Think Small distributes materials from our 5,000+ item collection at no charge to public library patrons statewide. Our publishing division, Redleaf Press, distributes over 170,000 books each year to customers around the country and abroad.