Steve Goldberg, Executive Director of the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, congratulates graduates as they receive their diplomas.
Steve Goldberg, Executive Director of the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, congratulates graduates as they receive their diplomas.

Parent-Child Home Program and KinderReady, research-based home visitation programs targeted to help low-income families, celebrate their 2014 classes of 88 graduates who are ready for 4K in the fall.

On June 19, United Way of Dane County proudly honored a class of 88 four-year old graduates from two United Way early childhood programs—The Parent-Child Home Program and KinderReady. These research-based home visitation programs are a key part of United Way’s work in early childhood and are focused on the goal of ensuring children enter kindergarten developmentally ready to succeed. The strategy helps parents become their children’s first teacher, and is critical in preparing students for a lifetime of academic success and in closing the racial achievement gap. CUNA Mutual Group, a major partner in United Way’s early childhood work, hosted and sponsored the graduation ceremony.

“The brain is developing quickly during these critical first five years of life and sets the stage for life-long success,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County. “National data tells us the achievement gap starts early. We see gaps in children as early as 18 months and they grow wider from there without intervention. In fact, some children are as much as two years behind their peers when they are age 5. That’s why this work is so important to our community.”

The programs are part of United Way’s larger work to improve the racial achievement gap by addressing early childhood development in Dane County. In May of this year, United Way’s Born Learning Delegation 2.0 announced five key strategies in Dane County to ensure that every child in our community enters school with the skills necessary to learn and succeed. This community vision—The Born Learning Mobilization Plan—takes on a holistic approach to early childhood development which layers targeted strategies in three Early Childhood Zones (Leopold, Sun Prairie, Verona) and ten neighborhoods (Northside of Madison, Hammersley/Theresa Terrace, South & Southeast Madison (includes Owl Creek), Allied, Balsam/Russett, Darbo, Southwest Madison, Middleton/Cross Plains, Stoughton and Marshall) in Dane County.

Investing in education and development in a child’s early years has profound returns.  A 40-year longitudinal study that followed infants into adulthood shows that investing $1 in high-quality early developmental practices saves $17 down the road as measured by a decrease in crime, a decrease in teen pregnancies and an increase in education and earning levels.

IMPORTANT FACTS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD IN DANE COUNTY

  • Developmental gaps can be seen within the first 1,000 days of life. Investing in quality early childhood experiences is critical for the future of Dane County.
  • There are approximately 30,000 children under the age of five in Dane County. Of those children, nearly 1 in 5 are living in poverty. In Madison it is 1 in 4.
  • Approximately 2,000 children living in poverty are being cared for by their families, friends or neighbors and are not cared for in formal child care or early education settings.
  • All children do not arrive at school for kindergarten ready to learn and ready for success at school.  In Dane County, disparities exist in children’s development and readiness for success in school. In 2013, only 60% of children in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) scored “ready for kindergarten” on the MMSD’s Kindergarten Screener.  This number is lowest for African American children (38%), Hispanic children (29%), Asian children (55%), and children of two or more races (67%).

 About KinderReady
KinderReady helps parents learn how to promote their children’s healthy development so they are ready for school. Bilingual parent educators provide in-home parent education and child development services to families with children under the age of five, as well as parenting groups and bilingual parent-child playgroups. Services are available in Spanish and English and are free of charge. For information or to determine your eligibility for this program please contact Annie (Spanish) (en español) at 608-442-4172 or Janet (English) at 608-669-6304.

About Parent-Child Home Program
The Parent-Child Home Program is an evidence-based program that focuses on the parent and child interaction, school readiness, reaching developmental milestones, and language growth. 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. Low-income parents and children are invited into the program for two years, ages 2-4 years. Services take place in the family home. Services are available in English, Spanish, and Hmong and are free of charge. For information or to determine your eligibility for this program contact Teri Weiland at 729-1162 or TeriW@centerforfamilies.org.

About Our Community’s Agenda for Change

EDUCATION

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

 SAFETY

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

 HEALTH

  • 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.

About United Way of Dane County

United Way of Dane County is addressing the underlying causes of community issues through our community’s Agenda for Change—six goals focused on three priority areas of Education, Safety and Health that 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. United Way provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate, and volunteer to change the human condition in Dane County.