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Meet Meg Franko

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Butler Institute for Families

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Meg Franko, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, shares her journey within child welfare and the undergoing projects and initiatives that she is involved in here at Butler Institute for Families.

Meg Franko Spotlight

Butler Staff Spotlight - Meg Franko

What interested you in working for Butler? In what ways did your professional career lead you here? Please share a brief summary of your journey. 

I first came to Butler in 2012 to lead the cross-site evaluation of Mile High United Way's Social Innovation Fund Grant focused on early literacy. This was a new issue area for Butler and was a wonderful springboard for growing the early childhood portfolio and team. In 2020, I left Butler for three years during which time I worked with a statewide early childhood policy organization and launched my own research and evaluation firm focused on early childhood issues. I was excited to transition my firm's projects over to Butler earlier this year to be able to work again with the great team here.

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

My position at Butler is director of early childhood initiatives. The best part of this role is the team I get to work with. We have such a talented group of researchers working on our early childhood projects at Butler. I am thrilled that I get to interact with and learn from them every day.

What projects are you working on currently? Explain, please!

Currently, I’m working on several projects.  One involves an evaluation of Virginia's Mixed Delivery program. The Virginia Mixed Delivery program funds early childhood care and education (ECCE) for qualifying preschoolers and infants/toddlers in community-based and private settings. The evaluation looks at how the program is meeting goals for increased family access to services and improved financial stability for ECCE settings.

I’m also leading an evaluation of several strategies Colorado funded to recruit and retain early educators. There is an early care and education workforce crisis in Colorado and nationally that the pandemic made worse than ever. Results from this study will help the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) make decisions about future funding for workforce strategies.

In addition to those projects, I’m involved in the Colorado Preschool Development Grant (PDG) evaluation planning. Butler is currently the evaluation partner for Colorado's three-year PDG grant, which ends in December 2023. The state is applying for another round of federal funding, and Butler is leading the development of the evaluation plan for the next three-year grant cycle.

The fourth project I’m currently engaged with is the Routt County Child Care Needs Assessment. Routt County is home to Steamboat Springs and several surrounding communities. Local leaders have identified a gap in the demand for child care and the available supply. Butler is conducting a needs assessment to provide data on the issue that Routt County can use to craft local solutions.

Finally, I am working with DU’s Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab to help the CDEC develop and test an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) model that can be consistently implemented across the state.

What are the outcomes you hope for with these projects? How will these projects impact the community?

The early childhood projects at Butler help state and local entities improve early childhood systems and policies. We work closely with key partners to identify research and evaluation questions that can help them to improve family access to high-quality early care and education, support the early childhood workforce, and build a high-functioning early childhood system for children, families and providers.

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

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