Meet the UAC PHLpreK Team!

Date: 
April 13, 2018

Urban Affairs Coalition is excited to welcome our PHLpreK team to the UAC Family! UAC is one of the leading management partners for the City of Philadelphia's quality pre-K initiative - PHLpreK. UAC works to support the City's vision to deliver high-quality, accessible pre-K in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

Lead by Luanda Morris, UAC PHLpreK Manager, and Dainette Mintz, Managing Director of UAC PHLpreK, the UAC PHLpreK team has grown, adding seven new members to the UAC Family. Learn more about our PHLpreK team as we interview them about what they do and why they are driven to provide quality education to children in Philadelphia.



Latosha Christian, PHLpreK Contract Specialist

  • Background/ Interest in Pre-K: I have a background in various child welfare and behavioral health positions. I provided services to children in their own home (SCOH Case Manager), Foster Care Supervisor, Truancy supervisor and Director of Case Management for School Therapeutic Services and BHRS Wraparound programs. I am interested in learning more about the PHLpreK system, policies and procedures.
  • What do you do in your current role? I currently complete monthly contract monitoring visits to determine/ ensure that providers are complying with their contract. I ensure that children meet the age/ residency required to participate in the PHLpreK program.
  • Why do you do what you do? I do what I do for a sense of purpose, a new set of skills and responsibilities. I love learning new things and mastering processes.
  • Why do you do what you do for PHLpreK? I want to be a part of the cause, support UAC and the Mayor’s office. I believe in the vision and support the efforts. 

Dena Short, PHLpreK Compliance Coordinator

  • Background/ Interest in Pre-K: My interest Pre-K began when I picked up my own daughter from child care.  I found myself there all the time and having fun.  After a while it only made sense that this is what I should be doing.
  • What do you do in your current role? In my current role I ensure that all programs are compliant according to terms of the PHLpreK contract. Also included is collaboration and providing support and resources to programs.
  • Why do you do what you do? I understand the value in the investment of early childhood education. If you invest early in children lives it saves further down the line, in areas of lower incarnation rates, lower drop our rates and research shows positive effects on the workforce. 
  • Why do you do what you do for PHLpreK? All children should have access to high quality Pre-K experiences.

 
Alexandra Grund, Administrative Coordinator/Enrollment Specialist

  • Background/Interest in Pre-K: My background has been in non-profit work. This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with childcare/Pre-K
  • What do you do in your current role? I’m responsible for supporting all phlprek administrative functions at UAC. I review, monitor and provide reports of the data system used for phlprek called ChildWare. In addition, I communicate with our providers on a daily basis and assist with the invoicing process.
  • Why do you do what you do? Investing in education is an investment in the future of our city and this country. It all starts with early childhood education.
  • Why do you do what you do for PHLpreK? I think it’s great that Philadelphia now offers free preschool for families who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. Education shouldn’t be a privilege it’s a basic human right.

 
Lauren Merrell, Business Operations Specialist PHLpreK

  • Background/Interest in Pre-K: I have been working on the early childhood field since I was a Junior in High School.  I have worked with all age groups as a teacher and worked my way up to center management.  I enjoy working with young children and their families and ensuring they are getting the best possible start to their future.
  • What do you do in your current role? I assist programs participating in PHLpreK with their business and financial practices.  I help to ensure that they have proper policies and procedures in place and that they are following them.  I have worked with programs to understand the process of blended funding as this is the first time many of them are experiencing the topic.
  • Why do you do what you do? The early childhood field is of deep importance to me and I enjoy working with programs who want to do better and strengthen their practices.  Ensuring children have access to high quality care is imperative to their future and ours.
  • Why do you do what you do for PHLpreK? There is a direct correlation to sound business and fiscal practices and the quality of care children receive.  Working with programs who want to do better and want to make sure they are doing everything they can for the children is of the utmost importance.

 
Stephanie DaCosta, Contract Specialist

  • Background/Interest in Pre-K: For over twenty years, I have been an advocate for education and quality programming for infants to school age children to adults. As a former day care director, school administrator, retired teacher and presently adjunct professor, I understand the importance and I am committed to promoting foundational education.
  • What do you do in your current role? Contract Specialist
  • Why do you do what you do? As a Contract Specialist, I have the opportunity to work with an Early Childhood initiative that promotes quality programming in urban communities. I enjoy connecting with different Providers and providing support and resources to
  •  Why do you do what you do for PHLpreK? I believe in UAC’s Mission Statement and PHLpreK’s objectives. As a Contract Specialist, I have an opportunity to be a small part of carrying out a tremendous mission and seeing it fulfilled in the lives of providers and children and families.

Patricia J. Getz, PHLpreK Business and Financial TA Supervisor

  • Background/Interest in Pre-K: I have been working in Early Childhood Education for the past 29 years.  I owned and operated a childcare business and have had many roles in the childcare through the years which includes assessor, coach, consultant and trainer. 
  • What do you do in your current role? I supervise the program that provides Business and Financial Technical Assistance to PHLpreK programs.  I also provide Business and Financial Technical Assistance to programs
  • Why do you do what you do? Research shows that young children who receive high quality care are more likely to read by 3rd grade and be successful not only cognitively but socially and emotionally.  When I work with programs to increase quality I feel it affects all the children in their care to be successful in life.
  • Why do you do what you do for PHLpreK? It is my passion to assist childcare programs to become high in quality.  Helping programs become fiscally sound and have sound business practices will increase the quality of childcare which affects all the children and families that attend their program.