Putting its money where its mouth is, the state is sending $67,000 to two early childhood education groups in northeast Kentucky to promote school readiness.
The amounts are among 58 grants totaling nearly $1.2 million statewide to Community Early Childhood Councils, according to the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood.
The grants come at a time when preschool education is being pushed hard — Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday recently warned only one in four children in the state is prepared for kindergarten.
The Northeastern Alliance council, which encompasses Boyd, Carter, Elliott and Greenup counties, is receiving $57,900, and Lawrence County, which has its own council, gets $9,100.
The Northeastern council will use the money to supplement existing early childhood initiatives, said Rose-Linda Stafford, who is chairwoman of the council and coordinator of the South Ashland Family Resource Center.
Family resource centers are already in the business of working with families to make sure children get what they need to ensure school success, and the grant money will augment existing programs such as the Born Learning program and kindergarten transition programs, Stafford said.
“You can watch a child learn so much from birth to age 3, and if they’re not ready when they start school it can be so hard for them because it’s so much more rigorous,” she said.
Studies also show students who aren’t ready for kindergarten tend to stay behind during their entire scholastic careers, she said.
The councils are comprised of community volunteers from local school districts, public health departments, child-care providers, Head Start, local libraries, parents and interest groups in many other areas.
Councils work to improve early childhood care and education by assessing the unique needs of each community and building upon current strengths to explore creative ways to meet those needs.
This year’s grant applications asked CECCs to use county-level data to develop collaborative strategies focused on improving school readiness.
“Every child in the commonwealth, from the most rural farm to the inner city, deserves the opportunity for a promising life,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “Local councils are most qualified to serve the needs of the children in their communities.”
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2652.