Foundation News | Feb 2024

Koret study finds Jewish preschool ‘deserts,’ high tuition costs, staff retention are key issues

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy

Students in Luria Academy, a Jewish Montessori school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Jewish preschool education can be critically understaffed, hard to find, difficult to get to and challenging for parents to afford. These are among the findings of a new research study, “Exploring the Jewish [Early Childhood Education] Ecosystem,” shared with more than 180 participants who gathered across three locations last month.

The survey, which was conducted by Rosov Consulting, is a joint research initiative funded by the Koret Foundation and EarlyJ, a collaboration between the Rodan Family Foundation and the Koum Family Foundation that launched in April 2023.

“There hadn’t been this level of research done in our community,” said Danielle Foreman, chief program officer of the Koret Foundation. “From our standpoint, this is a community resource that we wanted to have out there…our hope is that this research can be used for practitioners and funders alike and can jump start a conversation about the kind of ECE ecosystem we want to have in the Bay Area.”

Foreman told eJewishPhilanthropy that Koret initiated the research, bringing in Rosov Consulting to conduct it, and then EarlyJ got on board. “It was an amazing moment where Rodan and Koum and several others were funding this through EarlyJ, and we could provide this amazing set of data and information for them to have as a backbone for their for their work,” Foreman said.

The research, which was conducted in March of 2023, had three learning goals: mapping the geography of Jewish ECE programs and identifying where Jewish families were living; surveying these programs in terms of operations, finances, demographics and other vectors; and identifying pathways and barriers to enrollment.

The report included recommendations for how to address the challenges facing the field. For example, tackling staffing challenges by identifying the barriers to hiring; supporting programs for Jewish ECE educator retention; and providing grants to preschools to facilitate expansion. Additionally, funding professional development opportunities, conferences and master’s degree programs can increase educator salaries, thereby encouraging teacher retention.

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