Susan Hoff, Chief Strategy and Operating Officer of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, shares this belief and strongly outlines the value of a quality early childhood education for our children and the community. Each dollar that we invest in high quality early childhood education programs returns approximately seven times that through better grade progression and achievement, higher levels in employment, less dependence on public assistance, and less involvement in the justice system.
While the research is clear and many bright spots exist across the County, Dallas has room to grow as just over half (55%) of our children enter Kindergarten school ready. “Making sure that our children are ready for school and ready for life is everyone’s business. The stakes are just too high to do nothing.”
Our community is responding to this call to action and rallying to increase the number of children entering school ready by:
- Ensuring more children enroll in quality early childhood education programs: 5 districts and more than 100 community organizations rallied together to raise awareness about pre-K registration in 2015 resulting in more than 11,000 children registering for pre-K.
- Equipping and empowering parents as their child’s first teacher: more than 50 organizations have committed to raising awareness about the importance of the early years, 20 organizations are launching Vroom (a free mobile application) that helps parents turn everyday interactions into brain building moments, and a new website is in development to provide families and service providers with access to current information on early childhood services and resources.
- Providing high quality professional development for early childhood professionals: the Dallas County Community College system is creating an Early Childhood Institute charged with the development of a robust teacher preparation program specifically designed for early childhood educators for the age 0 to 5 space.
- Sharing and scaling effective practices: collaborative networks are facilitating work to increase school readiness through home visiting, child care, school districts, and by addressing community level needs.
While many bright spots exist and momentum is growing around early childhood, there is a need for greater investment and engagement across the County. If you would like to get involved or learn more please reach out to Jaime Meyers, Director of Early Education Initiatives, at Jaime.Meyers@commit2dallas.org.