PREPPED Kids (Preschool and Pediatric services) www.preppedkids.org   PREPPED Kids is a web and mobile application designed to help low income families more easily access preschool and pediatric (hence PREPPED) services in their local communities. We chose these specific domains because together they support the healthy development of children and both have similar types of administrative hurdles for under-resourced families - particularly if parents have low literacy and/or low English proficiency. This web app is interactive and makes use of publically available information from education, health, and social service agencies. A unique aspect of the application is that it provides an opportunity for individual preschools and pediatric offices to update their own data and so improving the timeliness and reliability of the site. This aspect of the application also reflects and builds its community based nature. The PREPPED Kids web application was developed based on upon several years of work in Norristown Pennsylvania (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norristown,_Pennsylvania) , our community laboratory, with the goal of understanding the very specific needs of parents from vulnerable populations. We chose this community because of economic, cultural, and political forces which affect Norristown in a manner seen in medium sized communities across the country. Norristown once had an industrial base which has been severely eroded. An established low income African American community is now in some tension with a new and large Latino immigrant population made up of Mexican families which are transforming the education, health and social service landscape of the community. A major goal of the initial project was to ensure that any application was available to families with limited literacy in either English or Spanish (with plans to expand to other languages). All text in the application has been evaluated and found to be at or below the 5th grade reading level and Spanish translations have gone through a rigorous process of evaluation for readability.  A community partnered participatory research (CPPR) framework was utilized to bring us to what ultimately became the PREPPED Kids application. Advisory board members from families with preschool age children and service community stake holders had direct input in the nature and direction of this work. Some aspects of this overall project is detailed in our website for the Survey of Norristown Area Preschool and Pediatric Services or SNAPPS (http://www.cphi.upenn.edu/snapps.shtml). Briefly, we set out  to first learn what gets in the way of using high quality preschools and pediatric providers that the parents were satisfied with and then develop solutions which could be “scaled” up to cover communities much more widely. We used the name PREPPED for this new application instead of SNAPPS because of our interest in its scalability (Norristown is a part of the SNAPPS acronym). The information included in the site was selected based on careful formative research with the target community of low income parents of preschool aged children as well as preschool and pediatric providers in the community.   Using PREPPED Kids A parent or service provider interested in finding out about local preschool and pediatric sites can get onto the PREPPED Kids application through an internet browser on a computer or mobile phone at www.preppedkids.org . This initial page provides a map of specific sites in the target community (currently limited to Norristown PA). Users can select sites which provide key services by checking the boxes on the left hand of the screen. The map then refreshes to show only the sites that provide those services. Details of these sites can be reviewed through hovering over the place markers on the map to see the name and addresses of the sites and clicking on the balloons which pop up as a result. Detailed key information provided by the preschool and pediatric sites is shown on a linked site-specific page. Preschool and Pediatric sites are provided on different tabs along the top of the application along with detailed community resources and an SMS text messaging system for community announcements relevant to preschool age children. Key information regarding preschool curriculum and other quality measures are included on the detail pages as pop-ups and through links to agencies which oversee these sites.    PREPPED Kids Sustainability and Dissemination Features The PREPPED Kids application is designed to facilitate active and ongoing use by families, community service providers, and other relevant stakeholders in the community. After registration and verification by the system managers each of the preschool and pediatric sites in an area can update the information included in the site by completing an online survey which populates the information included on their specific detail pages. This ability to update site information is key to the sustainability of the site and confirmation of the current information. A notice of how recently the information was updated is also included on each page so that users will be confident of the veracity of the information. To support this feature an automated email message will be sent to the registered representative of each site every six months prompting a review of the page and encouraging the site to update their information. Any site that does not update any information once a year will be flagged for further investigation by the system managers and a warning will be placed on the detail pages. An SMS text messaging utility is included in the application as a resource to parents and a way for preschools, pediatric sites, and community service agencies to disseminate information to a targeted community of parents with preschool age children. Although it is currently free the service will eventually have a minimal charge to the organization sending out the message, in order to support the cost of the service itself (no profit will ever be included in the functionality of the site). We have just launched our campaign to notify community members and agencies of the application and have had an enthusiastic response. We have had commitments from the Montgomery County Department of Health as well participating preschools and social service agencies to utilize this messaging system and have begun to have community members sign up for the service. This social networking aspect of the project is potentially a major element of the application that could help with utilization and dissemination/sustainability by providing valued services to the distinct members of the community. In addition to SMS we have Facebook and Twitter accounts that mirror the localized announcements provided through the PREPPED Kids service. This increases access, allowing each community member to choose a preferred information channel. The information provided through this site will be limited to the needs of preschool aged children in the specific community in which the family lives. The PREPPED Kids site is designed to be disseminated easily to other communities. As communities are interested in the service it will be expanded to the new area. An initial set up for the area will need to be coordinated with a sponsoring organization which will provide initial contacts and information on the community preschool and pediatric sites. The service has the capacity to expand in an unlimited capacity across communities nationally. For more information including the project background and research please see the supporting document.  

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