Early Learning Efforts in White Center and East Yakima Show Progress in Preparing Children for Kindergarten
In East Yakima, Ready by Five:
* Created the Kindergarten Transition Program with the Yakima School District that brings new kindergartners to school two weeks before school starts to get to know their teacher, classmates, routines, and expectations, so that positive learning begins on day one of the school year.
* Started Creative Families, a monthly program to help parents learn more about how to engage in activities with their children that promote learning.
“Every child deserves the best start in life possible. That includes having access to quality early learning experiences at home and in their community, so every child who starts kindergarten is ready to learn and succeed in school.” said Valisa Smith, senior program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Early Learning initiative. “The work being done by Thrive by Five Washington and in White Center and East Yakima gives more children access to the experiences they need to develop their potential and creativity.”
Both communities are testing pieces of the state’s quality rating and improvement system, so that Washington can soon help child care providers increase the quality of care they offer and provide families with objective information about child care in their community. This system is similar to ratings that are already available for restaurants and hotels.
As part of their work, the communities are developing a continuum of programs for children birth to age 5 as well as their parents and caregivers. Some of the services and programs that will be offered include home visitation for expectant families; play-and-learn groups for toddlers; resources to support language development and literacy; parenting activities; and a kindergarten transition program.
"The continued funding for the White Center Early Learning Initiative means that hundreds more families will receive support getting their children ready for school and life, beginning at birth. This is a wonderful example of a public-private partnership, where philanthropic dollars leverage state and federal funding to benefit our community, state and nation," said Dr. Monte Bridges, superintendent of the Puget Sound ESD, which oversees the community partnership in White Center.