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2 Refining our work with Families with Young Children »School readiness as a part of optimal child development »Aligning Making Connections with just- released national consensus on school readiness

3 Why Early Development Matters The Early Years Count There is overwhelming evidence that the care, support, and environment children experience in their earliest years significantly impact healthy development, success in school and in life

4 Why Early Development Matters Families Can Make the Difference Helping families support optimal development for young children is Step 1 in reducing inequities and barriers to children’s learning and development associated with race, class, language

5 A Working Definition of Optimal Development When children enter school, they are in good health and have the social/emotional, cognitive and language skills they need to succeed. Families have had the information, supports, and resources they need to be effective caretakers and advocates for their children in the early years. Schools are ready and able to provide ALL children the opportunity to learn. Neighborhoods provide experiences, support and services that maximize success for children, families, and schools.

6 In other words, Ready families + Ready schools + Ready communities + Ready services (health, early care and education) = Optimal development, healthy children, and children prepared to succeed in school

7 The Making Connections “Connection” Preparing young children to succeed in school is linked to all three major areas of the Making Connections theory of change: Family economic success Quality services and supports Development of Social networks

8 Links to Family Economic Success Sufficient family income is crucial to enable families to provide what children need for optimal early childhood development. Access to affordable child care is often a key factor in allowing parents to work; 61% of mothers with children under six work full year, full time. Child care is the fastest growing business opportunity for women nationally, especially for mothers with young children.

9 Links to High Quality Services and Supports Helping young children develop requires connections among many services families need: health, mental health, schools, child care, etc. Good early childhood programs link families to other services they need, such as GED and other education, jobs, domestic violence assistance, or mental health services. Empowered residents can and should demand higher quality services and supports.

10 Links to Social Networks Research shows that children of parents with strong, diverse social networks are more prepared for school. Parents’ knowledge, skills and action to support their children in their early years is most influenced by their families and friends. Activities for young children (e.g. libraries, parks, family resource centers) create opportunities for their families to congregate, create social capital, and participate in the community.

11 The Making Connections “Connection”, Part 2 Ensuring that young children are healthy and prepared for school success is one of the six core results of Making Connections All Making Connections sites have committed to improving child development as part of their work

12 Making Connections Six Core Results: 1. Families have increased earnings and income. 2. Families have increased levels of assets. 3. Families and youth increase their civic participation. 4. Families have strong supports and networks. 5. Families have access to services that work for them. 6. Children are healthy and ready to succeed in school.

13 Indicators of Success »Initial Making Connections indicators »A broader menu of indicators, based on national consensus »Streamlined indicators for the Casey Trustees

14 Initial Making Connections Indicators for Result 6: 1. Pregnant women receive prenatal care in the first trimester. 2. All children have access to health insurance. 3. More children enter school with the strengths, skills and good health that enable them to learn. 4. More children have developmentally appropriate preschool experience. 5. More parents are involved in their children’s school.

15 A Broader Menu from which Sites Can Choose Ready Children Ready Families Ready Communities Ready Services Health Early Care and Education (Everyone has a complete list in their folders)

16 Streamlined Indicators Data on four key indicators across all sites will be reported to the Casey Trustees: Percent of children participating in preschool Improvement in kindergarten assessments School attendance in early grades Third grade reading scores

17 Suspected ingredients in a good School Readiness plan READY CHILDREN Many opportunities for experiences that physical health, exploration and play, and social emotional, cognitive and language skills. READY FAMILIES A plan for every family to receive and act on information and resources to support their child’s development, with special attention to isolated families and those in particularly vulnerable situations.

18 Suspected ingredients, cont. READY COMMUNITIES Opportunities for economic success for families Safe, healthy environment READY SERVICES Action to increase availability, affordability, accessibility of high quality preschool experiences for all children, including support for family, friend and neighbor caregivers. Action to provide adequate health resources for families with young children. READY SCHOOLS Schools that support school success for ALL children and welcome their families

19 Support for Child Development Strategies in Sites Investments from site funds Access to information and TA from Foundation grantees Program on Families with Young Children Education Reform Health and Mental Health “Hands on” technical assistance – people, resources, peer visits to other communities – provided through the Technical Assistance Resource Center

20 Support for Site Work Learning network for School Readiness Coordinators from all sites Monthly phone calls Ongoing information exchange July meeting 2 Cross site strategy meetings (Mar. 30- 31 and Oct. 20-21) Local Coordinators, School Readiness Coordinators, plus partners in each site

21 2005 Seed Grants to sites Directed toward building neighborhood capacity and creating strategic partnerships for key strategies: neighborhood messengers, FFN caregiver support, ready schools.* Requires match with local co-investor $75,000 maximum for each grant ($500,000 pool) *Other great ideas will be considered!

22 Results for this meeting ● Develop and agree on shared expectations in 2005 ● Develop greater clarity about the Making Connections framework for ensuring that children are healthy and prepared to succeed in school ● Gain insight about using data and developing strategies that are powerful enough to achieve targets ● Learn about promising school readiness strategies and resources available ● Leave the meeting with consensus on next steps

23 Setting targets All sites have identified specific targets they intend to reach over time to close gaps between children in the Making Connections neighborhood and children in the larger metro area or to reach a community goal.

24 Hitting the target: Key Questions for each target ●What do we know or need to know? Relevant data on children, families and neighborhood and gaps to be filled ●Who’s doing something now? Potential partners ●What are our options? Strategies taken together that are powerful enough to hit the target ●What can Making Connections add? ●What is our approach? Sequence of investments and action to support strategies

25 Working it out Target Where do we want to be? Data What do we know or need to know? Potential Partners What’s happening now? Strategies What are our options? Value Added What can Making Connections add? Best Plan What should we do?


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