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AT&T-SPONSORED PROJECT WILL USE LESSONS LEARNED IN BUSINESS TO BOOST CHILD-CARE QUALITY

 NEW YORK, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Quality principles honed in the corporate world are being applied for the first time to improve community child care and early education in a project announced today.
 The Early Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP) is being conducted by the Families and Work Institute and local and state child- care and early-education agencies with help from the AT&T Foundation.
 "This project gives us an opportunity to provide financial support and apply lessons we've learned in running our business to help meet a significant and growing need facing parents, child-care providers, employers and government leaders," said Milton J. Little Jr., vice president of health and human services for the AT&T Foundation.
 The AT&T Foundation has committed $680,000 to support EQUIP, which will be pilot-tested beginning this fall in the state of West Virginia, Boston and Kansas City, Mo.
 "EQUIP is the first project of this scale and scope to take a quality-based approach to helping communities build comprehensive systems of early-childhood services," said Ellen Galinsky, co-president of the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit center for policy research and a clearinghouse for information on work/family issues.
 The following agencies have been selected to lead locally based teams that will run the pilot projects: the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families in West Virginia, Associated Day Care Services in Boston and the Metropolitan Council on Child Care in Kansas City.
 These agencies, selected in a nationwide competitive process, will assemble teams composed of early-childhood professionals, consumers, and business and government leaders. The Oregon Child Care Resource and Referral Network will provide technical assistance.
 Local EQUIP teams will test and fine-tune tools and processes similar to those used in connection with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which two AT&T business units won in 1992.
 "Each team will develop a vision of how it would like the early- childhood system in its community or state to look," said Julie Levine, EQUIP project director. "Then it will design a quality-improvement plan to implement that vision."
 Key to EQUIP is the testing and refinement of a quality audit, which communities can use to evaluate and monitor supply, demand and cost factors related to child-care and preschool-education programs. The audit will help local teams examine and set benchmarks for improving such aspects as physical conditions, staffing, hours of operation, registration or licensing status, availability of spaces for children of different ages, and types of services offered.
 Using audit results, the teams will devise and carry out plans that will stitch together patchworks of existing services to create effective community child-care systems.
 The ultimate objective, anticipated by late 1995, is an audit that can be used in communities across the United States.
 "We're delighted to be partnering with AT&T because of its leadership in quality management, innovative work/family initiatives for employees, and strong philanthropic support of programs to benefit children and families," said Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute.
 "We're pleased to be involved in this path-breaking project," said Little of the AT&T Foundation. "AT&T's role in EQUIP is part of our company's long-term investment in the education and well-being of our nation's children."
 "By supporting initiatives to benefit young children and their families, we are contributing at a crucial point to the development of children who are prepared to succeed in school and, eventually, in the competitive workplace of the 21st century," Little added. "EQUIP will promote healthy child development, school readiness and the overall well-being of families."
 Additional Information
 The AT&T Foundation, the principal philanthropic arm of AT&T, gave more than $33 million in direct cash grants in 1992 to support programs in the fields of education, health and human services, arts and culture, public policy and the environment. Those programs included a range of innovative health, social-services and education initiatives for young children and their families, as well as $7 million in United Way contributions.
 In addition, AT&T offers various work/family benefits to its employees, such as resource and referral information and consultation on child care and elder care. The Family Care Development Fund, administered by AT&T and its two major unions, has committed $25 million over six years to increasing the quality and supply of child care and elder care through grants to organizations in communities where AT&T employees live and work.
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 /CONTACTS: Ellen Galinsky, 212-465-2044, or Julie Levine, 212-465-2044, both of Families and Work Institute, or Andrew Myers of AT&T, 908-221-2737/
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Date:Sep 29, 1993
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