Fort Worth developer and philanthropist Happy Baggett, and SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development, received the Child Care Associates (CCA) North Texas Early Childhood Leadership Awards Oct. 16 in the categories of individual and organization, respectively.

The awards were presented during a ceremony before the start of its second Annual Early Childhood Investors’ Luncheon at the Omni Hotel.

“Early education is a bright spot for education for those investing in education and innovation. CCA created the award in 2018 to spotlight individuals and organizations who go above and beyond in advancing outcomes for young children,” said CCA CEO Kara Waddell.

The individual award went to Baggett for these reasons:

• Raised the visibility of early education as a key economic development factor in place-based planning with the Renaissance Heights development.

• Raised the visibility and feasibility of improving the quality of early childhood classrooms and infrastructure by launching the Happy Baggett Early Childhood Development Fund at CCA.

• The “Happy Fund” is targeted to help secure $12 million over the next several years to immediately improve the quality of the 23 existing CCA early childhood campuses, as well as build new campuses in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Currently, these CCA centers annually serve 2,300 disadvantaged children 0-4 years old.

“I’ve lived my life to help serve others, especially children in need. Now I have had the chance to help babies and our younger ones. It’s our duty as a community to provide for the little ones,” Baggett said.

It was a bittersweet occasion for Baggett who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

¬The organization award was presented to SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development for these reasons:

• Improved the capacity of CCA to assess and continuously improve the instructional quality in CCA’s 143 early education classrooms serving disadvantaged infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Over the last three years, the number of CCA classrooms achieving research-based quality standards has increased significantly to more than 90 percent of all CCA classrooms are providing instruction and interactions at the highest level of quality.

• Supported CCA by creating simple, user-friendly child assessment reports utilized by parents and early educators – making the child development data less obscure and identifying next steps for supporting young children both in the home and in the early education classroom.

• Built up the capacity of nonprofits in the education space across North Texas to improve child outcomes, measure child outcomes accurately and engage partners in a true spirit of collaboration and shared impact.

“By honoring Simmons’ Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) for its work, Child Care Associates signals the importance of establishing comprehensive assessments and measurable outcomes to improve instruction,” said Stephanie L. Knight, Dean of SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “We are grateful for the 2019 North Texas Early Childhood Leadership Award and would like to recognize CCA as well for its regional impact on early education.”

Child Care Associates is the largest child development nonprofit in North Texas and has served more than 590,000 young children in the past 51 years.

Through Head Start and Early Head Start programs, Child Care Associates delivers early education that ensures children who need it most are ready to succeed in school. Child Care Associates operates 23 child development centers in the greater Fort Worth and Arlington-area to serve approximately 2,300 children per year.

Partnering with school districts and charter schools, Child Care Associates ensures underprivileged children in Pre-K also benefit from whole child, whole family services.

– FWBP Staff