Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?
In Springfield, local leaders have recognized early childhood education as a priority for many years. In the 2011 Mayor’s Commission for Children study, “Readiness for Kindergarten,” local teachers reported 20.2% of students enter kindergarten under-prepared. That means 1 in 5 local children beginning kindergarten without the social, cognitive, physical and emotional foundations needed to succeed.
According experts in the field, 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before a child is five years old making this an important time for intervention to insure children develop physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally in order to become a healthy productive adult.
As a community, Springfield has recognized early childhood development as a Red Flag issue. To help combat this growing concern, there are numerous and diverse offerings to help children and families. A downfall of the availability of multiple resources is the difficulty in communicating to families to help them answer questions like: Which option is best for my child? Where can we go for resources? Who qualifies?
Through the collaboration of Child Care Aware® of Southern Missouri, an agency of the Council of Churches of the Ozarks, Springfield Public Schools and Community Partnership of the Ozarks, a new service called the Early Childhood One Stop seeks to answer these questions and more for area families with young children. Over 17 organizations are working together to design this innovative service for the community.
With nearly 50% of Greene County families with children under five years old living in poverty, many families are struggling with needs like housing, food security, employment, and access to health care, in addition to working to provide early childhood education to their children. The Early Childhood One Stop is being piloted as a way to connect families with available resources to help meet these needs in a holistic, collaborative way. Families will not only being able to work on providing increased stability in their homes, but parents will have access to information on parenting, child development, childcare programs, developmental screenings and much more-critical elements to a strong family foundation.
In addition to referral services, families will be encouraged to have pre-kindergarten aged children screened for developmental strengths, either through Springfield Public Schools’ Parents as Teachers program, or on premises at the Early Childhood One Stop.
The Early Childhood One Stop is for anyone who: is pregnant or has a child under the age of 6; has questions about available early childhood community resources; and/or needs assistance in locating recreational activities, financial assistance, child care or other community resources.
For more information about Early Childhood One Stop services, please call the Child Care Aware® of Southern Missouri office at 887-3545.