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Butler Institute for Families

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Meet Jessica Francis, the Senior Research Manager at the Butler Institute for Families, guiding the Early Childhood team. Discover Jessica's extensive background and her role in leading projects that focus on the workforce and contribute to informed decision-making for future workforce development initiatives.

Jessica Francis

Butler Staff Spotlight - Jessica Francis


What interested you in working for Butler?  

My career in early childhood began back in 2003 when I started working at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. I worked there for 15 years, and I managed and led numerous research studies in New Jersey and throughout the country. The focus of my research was largely on quality in publicly funded preschool programs, as well as intervention studies on components such as parent engagement, class size, curriculum, teacher education and QRIS, among many others. My interest in QRIS led me to the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) at the University of Delaware in 2018, where I spent the next 5 years focused on systems development, program quality and organizational effectiveness.

After getting through the pandemic with some amazing people at DIEEC, I knew I was ready for a change. I consulted on an evaluation of teacher preparation in Denver, at which point I learned about Butler. At that time, there was an opportunity for a senior research associate on the early childhood initiatives team, and I knew right away that it would be a great fit for me. I love the broad scope of work that is done at Butler, from behavioral health to child welfare to early childhood. I think each focus area complements the others and allows Butler to make unique contributions to children, youth, families, individuals and communities.


What is your position at Butler? What do you enjoy most about your position?  

I am currently a senior research manager, where I serve as one of the early childhood (EC) leads, and I am also the point person for the EC team.


What projects are you working on currently?

I am currently working on projects that focus mainly on the early childhood workforce. One project is examining the experiences and impacts of four stimulus-funded strategies that are aimed at recruiting, supporting and retaining a diverse, high-quality pool of ECE professionals across ECE settings. Another project aims to identify best practices in supporting the financial well-being of early childhood providers, the workforce and families. A third project is examining the early childhood mental health consultation workforce, recipients and reach.


What are the outcomes you hope for with this project? How will this project impact the community?  

The outcomes from all three of these projects will be used to help make future decisions about workforce development investments.

Learn more about Butler's early childhood, child welfare, tribal child welfare, & behavioral health initiatives

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