Smart Beginnings is a public/private collaborative to make our community a place where children grow up healthy and arrive at school prepared to succeed.
In Virginia, 1 in 7 children enters kindergarten without the basic skills needed to succeed in school. The Annie E. Casey Foundation: KIDS COUNT Data Center. (2010). PALS-K Scores.
Approximately 10,000 K-3 students in Virginia repeat a grade each year, costing $80 million. Randall, P. P. (2010). Preschool Education in Virginia and the Resulting Academic Effects for Third- and Fifth-Grade At-Risk Students.
Investment in early childhood development may yield up to a $16 return for every dollar invested. Investing now in early childhood development yields tremendous economic and social benefits by reducing crime and welfare dependency while building the competitive, productive workforce our communities will need in the future. Rolnick, A., & Grunewald, R. (2003). Early Childhood Development with a High Public Return.
There’s plenty of national research to prove it; we know that kids who start Kindergarten behind, and don’t get caught up by the 3rd or 4th grade, will almost always stay behind. That’s why early childhood education is so important. It gives us an opportunity to invest our resources the right way, the first time around. Smart Beginnings, a collaborative effort, is dedicated to growing opportunities to make sure our children are prepared to be successful in school and life. We do not provide direct services locally, but focus on accountability, advocacy and sustainability of local efforts. We support home visiting services, public and private preschools, quality child care opportunities, and other early learning initiatives that meet the needs of our local community.
Remember that getting a child ready for Kindergarten begins at birth. It’s important to read, talk with, sing and play with your child from early on. Close to 90% of brain development happens before the age of 5, so be proactive! We have a wealth of community resources that can support parents along the way here in Central Virginia. Need some direction? Just head over to the Smart Beginnings page and check out our different pages for more information. Smart Beginnings created the “Getting Ready” booklet a few years ago and it’s been a big hit with service providers and families. To find out how to get your copy, just give me a call or send me an email!
Smart Beginnings also recently prepared and distributed a survey on the availability and importance of quality child care. This survey went out to businesses, agencies and parents. We have received over 300 responses so far. If you would like to have your say, click on this link for a short survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ChildCareSB
Highlights from that survey include:
- 85% of respondents indicated that investing in quality child care/preschool should be a community priority. (ranked at 8, 9 and 10 out of 10).
- Yet only 17% of respondents believe that quality and affordable childcare is available in our community. 209 people ranked this question at a 5 or below.
- Many respondents commented that care is very expensive and often not available in our community.
Smart Beginnings is committed to quality and affordable child care in our community. This survey will help us target our outreach and public awareness efforts.
- So if you know an early childhood educator (including parents!), say thank you this week for all the hard they do. It’s a big job to educate young minds.
- Write a letter to the editor about how important it is to invest in early childhood education. Need a template? Just ask me!
- Host a house party for Smart Beginnings. Staff can come and talk about the local initiative and the work of our partner agencies.
- Have a staff member come and speak to your office about child care resources in our community.
- Support the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area's School Readiness initiatives through your monetary donations.
To learn more, contact Jessie Ray, Smart Beginnings Director for Charlottesville/Albemarle:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-972-1702.
Smart Beginnings: Ready for School. Ready for Life.
Posted by: Jessie Ray