The United Way’s Success By 6 and the Clermont County Early Childhood Coordinating Council are raising awareness about the importance of early childhood education and early learning programs.
Success By 6 officials and members of the council, including representatives from Child Focus, a non-profit organization that serves youths in the county, presented their findings about kindergarten readiness Aug. 2 at the Child Focus Training Center and made conclusions from ongoing research.
Chris Humphrey, manager of Success By 6, said preparing children for kindergarten is one of the United Way’s initiatives, which aligns with the mission of Child Focus to serve children in Clermont County.
“In Clermont, we have focused on quality early care and education,” Humphrey said. “Making sure childcare is high quality and preschool is high quality.”
Berta Velilla, director of the early childhood learning programs at Child Focus, said for the past three years they have distributed surveys to parents of students at school districts in the county to determine the family’s situation and the child’s educational experiences prior to kindergarten.
In addition, Velilla said they review the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy, an assessment required by the Ohio Department of Education to be taken at the beginning of the school year.
“We know from national research, those with quality early childhood education do better in school,” Velilla said. “We wanted to see what it looks like here in Clermont County.”
She said they found that the data they analyzed from Clermont County was similar to what national research reports.
Velilla said this is true especially for low income children that attend a quality preschool programs.
“They do just as good or better than children that are higher income who are at home,” Velilla said.
Velilla said if they are able to get as many low-income children in preschool as possible, the children will be as ready as their higher-income peers for kindergarten.
She said there are several lower-cost options for early childhood education in Clermont County including Head Start, a Child Focus program that provides educational services to children in low-income families.
Velilla said other resources for families who can’t afford early childhood educational programs include childcare subsidies and home visitation programs.
She said childcare providers can also include early childhood education and parents should look for “quality rated” programs for their children.
Humphrey said other organizations that have programs for lower income children include the Young Women’s Christian Association as well as Home Instruction for Preschool Youngsters.
“Income is a strong influencing factor for kindergarten readiness,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey said enrolling students in educational programs and making those programs available will help close the gap in kindergarten readiness.
Humphrey encouraged anyone with children not enrolled in preschool or another educational program to consider the benefit it has on children, including those who come from low income families.
“It will make a difference in their kindergarten readiness a year from now,” Humphrey said.