Expansion of United Way’s Parent-Child Home Program will serve up to 119 families in 2012-2013.

On July 24, the Board of Directors at United Way of Dane County approved the expansion of its Parent-Child Home Program. In an investment partnership with CUNA Mutual Foundation, an additional $56,735 will be devoted to this Program whose key goal is to ensure children enter kindergarten with the necessary skills to succeed. This is an important strategy of our community’s Agenda for Change goals of preparing children for success in school and closing the racial achievement gap. United Way’s Parent-Child Home Program served 43 families in 2011/2012; a planned expansion would have allowed up to 90 families to be reached in 2013. Now, with CUNA Mutual Foundation’s support United Way will be able to serve up to 119 families in 2012-2013.

“41% of Madison children entering kindergarten do not have the skills necessary to be successful in school,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County. “Children who start school behind their peers have difficulty catching up. Parent-Child Home Program is an integral element in ensuring that children enter school prepared, ready to learn, and ultimately graduate from high school. With CUNA Mutual Foundation’s partnership we are able to reach even more families in the coming year. It is community collaboration, like this, that makes real change happen in all aspects of our community’s Agenda for Change.”

The Parent-Child Home Program is an evidence-based strategy that focuses on the parent and child interaction, reaching developmental milestones, and language growth. The program targets low income families with children two years of age. A home visitor visits a family twice a week for two years. Each week the child receives a new, developmentally appropriate book or toy to keep. The home visitor shows the parent how to interact with their child using that book or toy. The second visit of the week reinforces the use of the book or toy and ensures its being used.

In May, the United Way Board of Directors and Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education (MMSD) met to recommit to a set of comprehensive strategies focused on closing the racial achievement gap, early education was identified as the highest priority of the defined strategies. Additional strategies include: keeping students engaged through academic support, early identification and treatment of behavioral health issues, providing parent support with parent engagement sessions, and mobilizing skilled tutors to work one-on-one in concert with the classroom teacher through United Way’s Schools of Hope programs.

Longitudinal research over 50 years shows Parent-Child Home program participants have significantly higher graduation rates than their peers who were not in the program. They graduated at the same rate as children from middle class families. An independent study, conducted by the City of New York Office of the Comptroller, calculates savings from the reduced need for special education services for Parent-Child Home Program graduates at $210,000 per child.

United Way’s Born Learning initiative started in 2007, when a group of community leaders convened to review the school readiness of children entering kindergarten in Dane County. This group first looked at the data they found that 41% of our young children were entering kindergarten without the skills they needed to succeed in school. The group also examined how poverty plays a critical role in early childhood development. After nine months of reviewing research and data, and talking with community experts, United Way’s Born Learning Delegation released their Mobilization Plan and committed to increasing the number of children who are fully prepared for kindergarten from 59% to 75% by 2013. Four strategies were selected to pursue to meet that goal:

  • All children are screened for developmental delays through medical providers, professionals or community-based programs.
  • All children have access to high quality early childhood experiences that encourage positive development.
  • All caregivers have access to resources that help them become successful as their children’s first teachers.
  • The Dane County community is aware of the link between high quality early childhood experience and school readiness.

Our Community’s Agenda for Change


  • Students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race.
  • Children are cared for and have fun as they become prepared for school.


  • There is a decrease in family homelessness.
  • There is a reduction in violence toward individuals and families.


  • People’s health issues are identified and treated early.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities are able to stay in their homes.

United Way engages our community mobilizes volunteers and strengthens local nonprofits to achieve measurable results and change lives.

United Way of Dane County is addressing the underlying causes of community issues through our community’s Agenda for Change—seven goals focused on three priority areas of Education, Safety and Health our community identified as most critical to changing lives and strengthening Dane County. Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, we are achieving measurable results toward making our community better educated, safer, and healthier.