Child Care Associates

We appreciate the balanced approach The Miles Foundation brings to this work. The Miles team equally values both innovation and effectiveness; vision and execution; relationships and results. I can’t say enough how these unique perspectives make them an ideal partner and a true asset to our community.
— Kara Waddell, President & CEO, Child Care Associates

Child Care Associates (CCA) is the largest child development nonprofit organization in North Texas, celebrating 50 years of service in 2018.  A leader in early child development and education, CCA has served over 580,000 at-risk children and their families over the last five decades through its “whole child, whole family” quality early education approach.

Meeting a Community Need

Approximately 90% of the families CCA serves live below the poverty level, and 40% have less than a high school education. The need for high-quality care, development, and education of children living in poverty is acute. Without a strong early foundation in the first five years, research shows these children are more likely to drop out of school, and are at a higher risk of incarceration, teen pregnancy, and suffering from a multitude of health problems.[1]

Leading the Way in Accountability and Achievement

Over its history, CCA has developed a reputation for innovation and achievement on behalf of disadvantaged children and families. Each year, CCA reports its progress to the community, using data to both measure impact and steer its go-forward priorities and strategic direction.

Mark-Anthony Barnes, CCA’s Parent Engagement Coordinator, teaches Incredible Years Parenting Education classes for Early Head Start and Head Start parents.

Mark-Anthony Barnes, CCA’s Parent Engagement Coordinator, teaches Incredible Years Parenting Education classes for Early Head Start and Head Start parents.

In 2017, CCA shared its results of external assessments of all of its classrooms[2]. After an intentional focus on measuring and enhancing classroom quality, and supporting highly effective teacher-child interactions, CCA improved its classroom quality by 24% in the key domain of instructional support.  Today, CCA classrooms are exceeding National Head Start average quality ratings – which are already well above the top ten percent of quality scores nationwide.[3]

This is just one of many examples of CCA’s continuous commitment to quality and ensuring the success of the teachers, children, and families that are part of its early learning community.

Five Key Impact Areas

CCA impacts over 17,000 children annually through its work across five distinct focus areas:

1) Head Start/Early Head Start

CCA’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide a “whole child, whole family” approach to quality early childhood education for the community’s most vulnerable families. Services for children age 0-5 include a full-day, proven educational curriculum that includes social and emotional development; child assessments and developmental screenings; nutritional meals; and access to a primary care and dental provider and health insurance.


In addition to providing quality early childhood education, CCA also offers evidence-based parenting education programs to help families support the needs of their developing child.

Annually, CCA’s impact on local high-poverty neighborhoods, elementary schools, and families is significant:

  • 34 dedicated Early Head Start classrooms serving 300 children
  • 114 Head Start classrooms serving 2,000 children

2) Child Care Subsidy Assistance

CCA helps low-income families afford the cost of quality child care through subsidy programs that benefit 12,000+ children each year. CCA allocates $41m in state and federal  funding for Tarrant County (CCMS) and West Central Texas (CCS) to help parents who cannot meet the cost requirements to access high quality early education opportunities for their children.

3) Quality Advancement

CCA manages quality systems designed to improve the quality of child care in Tarrant County. The Texas Rising Star quality improvement program rates child care programs on a continuum of quality, with designations of 2-star, 3-star, or 4-star (highest quality). Key stats under this program include:

  • 108 Texas Rising Star early childhood facilities
  • Assessing 274 child care classrooms using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
  • Mentoring 336 teachers and child care center directors
  • 11,187 estimated number of children impacted by these efforts

CCA also operates the Texas School Ready program, which couples preschool teacher training with ongoing professional development and progress monitoring tools to help teachers and classrooms bolster kindergarten readiness for their students. Key stats for this program include:

  • 30 Texas School Ready partnerships
  • 53 teachers received direct classroom coaching and professional development
  • 2,895 estimated number of children impacted by these efforts

4) Policy Transformation

CCA seeks to move the needle in early education by enacting and advocating for policies that support the long-term, sustainable success of early childhood networks and systems. To reach this goal, CCA focuses on the following actions:

  • Identifying and Developing Best Practices: CCA was the first organization in Texas to offer the Incredible Years® parenting curriculum. The program walks with parents to learn through role-play, evidence-based lessons, and peer-to-peer problem solving – and helps prevent and reduce child behavior problems that can serve as a barrier to learning.
  • Leveraging Expertise: CCA is a go-to source and strategy advisor for groups seeking to change policies that impact young children – including Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Children at Risk, Texas Care for Children, National League of Cities, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Texas Educational Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, and Early Matters Dallas.
  • Taking Action: CCA is committed to improving policies to better serve young children and families. In 2015, CCA created (and then ensured the adoption of) new policies that shortened the waiting time for the placement of foster children in child care from 6-8 weeks to five days. CCA also devised a way to enroll homeless children into Head Start and Early Head Start programs without ever being placed on a wait list. CCA with the Tarrant County Workforce Board created a policy that has incented parents to select quality child care programs.
  • Creating a United Front: CCA president Kara Waddell has chaired the local Early Learning Alliance, a group of 50 organizations and agencies in North Texas working collectively to guide systems change to ensure all children in Tarrant County are ready for kindergarten.

5) Laboratory Classrooms

CCA utilizes its more than 140 early education classrooms to incubate best practices and collaborate with other community partners to find ways to scale quality opportunities for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Currently, CCA is leading the following key pilot projects:

  • Expanding the Incredible Years® parent engagement curriculum to all CCA early learning campuses, including training for a Family Service Advocate at each campus.
  • Measuring the Incredible Years® impact through evidence-based parenting surveys.
  • Launching a new Pre-K model with Uplift Charter School and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, including a 9-year evaluation study with SMU.

In celebration of its 50th year in the community, CCA will host a Community Reception on February 1, 2018, during which CEO Kara Waddell will chart a course for the field of early education and CCA in the decade ahead. Joined by community and education leaders, CCA will:

  • Release the organization’s “North Star” framework
  • Unveil CCA’s new early childhood classroom design
  • Present Crystal Apple Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Teaching
  • Announce the launch of a statewide platform for child care providers

The Miles Foundation is honored to partner with an organization that sets precedents in moving the needle for local quality early education.  We are grateful that CCA works with us to uncover and understand the most impactful levers we can help pull as a community to effect lasting change for local children and families.

[1] Sources:, HighScope Educational Foundation Perry Preschool Study at Age 40, Abecedarian Project, Voices for America’s Children and the Child and Family Policy Center

[2] SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) independently assessed all of CCA’s classrooms using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) tool.

[3] In the domains of Instructional Support and Classroom Organization.