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Early Childhood, an Unparalleled Investment

This article was originally published in the Racine Journal Times

Higher Expectations for Racine County is excited to be part of the Week of The Young Child - an annual celebration honoring our community’s efforts in preparing our youngest children to be successful. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about early childhood resources and celebrate Racine’s families at Family Empowerment Day on April 13 from 10 am- 3 pm at Case High School. At this event, the Week of the Young Child area in the field house will showcase community partners and have interactive learning activities for families with young children. 

Research shows us that focusing on early childhood development is an unparalleled investment not only for our children but for our community as a whole. In the first few years of a child’s life, their brains are hard-wired for learning, making neural connections at a rate of one million per second. When those seconds are filled with social interaction, singing, playing, and learning, children’s brains build a healthy foundation, and they enter school ready to learn.

Higher Expectations is working to improve outcomes for Racine County, starting with our youngest residents. In 2018, Higher Expectations convened nonprofit, government, and education partners from across the community who support families with children from birth to age 3. That group is starting to understand how families navigate through community-level resources, identify which resources all families should have access to, and align those resources. This includes programs like:

Imagination Library, which will deliver a free, age-appropriate book every month to any child, birth to age 5 in Racine County. Sign up at unitedwayracine.org/IL.

Family Connects, a community-wide universal nurse home visiting program for all parents of newborns in Racine County. Learn more at crchd.com/prenatal-parenting-programs

Reach Out & Read, where pediatricians at Ascension All Saints discuss the importance of literacy and provide a book to all children receiving well-child visits 

Our data shows that our efforts are starting to show results at the early childhood level. Since the 2014-2015 school year, the literacy scores for 4K students have increased by 4%. Although we are excited about this progress, there is still more we can do together as a community to support our youngest neighbors. If you are interested in being a part of making our community stronger, here are some examples of what you can do:

Read, play, sing, talk with your child or the children in your life. 

Understand the importance of quality when choosing childcare. Learn more at dcf.wisconsin.gov/youngstar/parents. 

Contact your local representatives to encourage them to support early childhood alignment efforts and investments.

Elizabeth Erickson – Higher Expectations Communications & Outreach Manager