From birth to age 5, multiple factors influence the trajectory of a child’s intellectual, social and emotional development. Insufficient attention to developmental delays and early learning milestones impact if a child arrives to kindergarten ready to learn.
Where We Stand
The state-mandated Developmental Readiness Assessment 2nd Edition (DRA2) from spring 2017, included here, establishes whether students have the literacy skills necessary to become successful readers by the end of kindergarten.
A more wholistic and, we believe, more accurate assessment indicates that more than half of children entering kindergarten in fall 2017 were unready in phonics, numeracy and social and emotional development.
What Needs to Happen
Nurse home visits: Every child can benefit from nurse home visits and active follow-up referrals, especially those who are born into poverty, yet few such opportunities exist. A possible option to provide support to all families, called Family Connects, is now under consideration by TCCC’s Kindergarten Readiness Network.
If Family Connects is implemented here, all children and their families will benefit from this free service, and the community can expect:
Early diagnosis, referral and treatment of development disorders
Fewer infant emergency room visits
Fewer overnight hospital visits for mothers
Overall better infant health and wellbeing
Higher rates of breastfeeing
Affordable pre-school: Every family needs access to high quality, affordable childcare that helps prepare children for kindergarten, yet “A” rated facilities are virtually non-existent in our region’s high poverty and rural areas.
Metanoia, a non-profit in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood of North Charleston, listened to what families in the neighborhood said they needed and is working to establish an A-rated early learning center where none currently exists.
The center will care for children from 0 to 4 years old.
The evidence is overwhelming that quality pre-school (3K and 4K) prepares young people for school, yet, without challenges to the status quo, pre-school for all won’t happen.
South Carolina ranks 39th in the nation in child well-being, according to KIDS Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. While this is an increase from the previous several years’ rankings, far too many children still don’t have a clear pathway to success.
More than 30,000 children live in poverty in the region, and more than 14,000 of those live in an area of concentrated poverty. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, SAIPE State and County Estimates for 2016 and U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates) Families who live in poverty may not be able to afford to send their children to pre-school. That means children begin school already in a disadvantaged position.
Children’s early years form the foundation for their academic and social success, and those who start kindergarten ahead tend to stay ahead. All children, especially the most under-resourced, need equitable access to early learning opportunities, high-quality and affordable pre-school, a consistent medical home and early intervention for developmental issues so they can start school ready to succeed.
What We’re Doing
TCCC’s Kindergarten Readiness Network, which is convened by Trident United Way, has gathered and used data to understand child development issues present in the local community. The group continues to show strong leadership in identifying and engaging partners, with plans to undertake specific projects with the input and involvement of families, caregivers and other service providers.
This network has agreed upon the following vision to guide its efforts:
Kindergarten Readiness involves children, families, early care and educational environments, schools and communities.
Families and caregivers encourage the physical, social and emotional, cognitive, and language development of children.
Early childhood practitioners partner with children and their families using evidence-based, child-centered and developmentally and culturally appropriate curricula and practices.
Communities create a system for access and support resources and institutions that will promote and support the development of the whole child.
All are necessary so that all children will experience kindergarten success.
To learn more and to join the network, contact Kate Buckholz, Trident United Way’s Education Innovation Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843.740.9000.
“Children who enter school with early skills, such as a basic knowledge of math and reading, are more likely than their peers to experience later academic success, attain higher levels of education, and secure employment. Absence of these and other skills may contribute to even greater disparities down the road.”