The Middletown School Readiness Council today announced grant support for implementing its community plan for early childhood literacy programming. Discovery grants are funded by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, and the Connecticut State Department of Education. This grant will help to ensure all children in Middletown, regardless of race and income level, are ready for school by age five prepared to be successful learners by age nine.
“We have really been so fortunate over the years to have had the ongoing support of the Graustein Memorial Fund to build an early childhood system here in Middletown so that we can reach our goal of having all of our city’s children come to school ready for success”, said Betsy Morgan, chair of the Middletown School Readiness Council.
The goal of Discovery is to create an early childhood system that ensures optimal healthy development leading to early learning success for Connecticut children of all races and income levels. Discovery supports communities in establishing collaborative structures in which parents are full partners. Each community creates and implements its own community plan. Advocates and other stakeholders work to improve policy and practice at the local and state levels. Across Connecticut, 52 communities focus on improving the quality of and access to early care and education for children from birth through age five, improving the quality of PreK-3 education in ways that increase early language and literacy development among all children, improving young children’s health and social/emotional development, and increasing local and statewide capacity to measure and continue improvements.
The Middletown Discovery Program launched in 2005 serves as a local resource for children from birth to age eight and their families. Middletown Discovery seeks to engage parents in their child’s early childhood education – birth through age eight, and in taking leadership roles within the community on behalf of all children.
Home-visiting services during the early stages of parenting have been proven to help mothers and fathers get themselves off to the right start as parents. One of the effective strategies offered by home-visiting programs is the services of a knowledgeable non-threatening “friend” to mothers and fathers who are experiencing life circumstances or health issues that may impact the positive development of their child. Research has shown how critical maternal bonding is to the future success of a newborn. This requires time and space for nurturing. In addition, the relationships established, type and frequency of stimulation as well as sense of security received through age three are vastly more important to a child’s brain development than we ever thought before. It is therefore especially wise for us to invest in services that support struggling families from the time a child is born, knowing that a great start is always better than a fitful beginning.
Early childhood efforts in Middletown have included a constant search for funding of home-visiting programs for children at birth through at least age three or longer if needed. The graph below provides a history of home-visiting services that have been added over the years. In 1992 Middlesex Hospital could offer services to 57 families per year. With the addition of Child FIRST in 2012, Middletown has the capacity to provide home visiting for 235 families.
Middletown has a vision for its families with very young children - strengthened by a supportive community, families have the resources, knowledge and skills to experience a healthy pregnancy and nurture the best in their children from birth through age eight. The collaborative’s work is divided into four categories - Strong Families, Healthy Children, Successful Learners and Supportive Community. Middletown: 2012, An Early Childhood Report Card has recently been published detailing this work and its results over the last twenty years.
“Discovery communities are building on their own local resources to develop an early childhood system that reflects the needs and values of the community,” said David M. Nee, Executive Director, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. “We are pleased to support local collaborative councils, along with our state partners, with both funding and training, so that children of all races and income levels can become successful learners.
“For children to succeed in school, attention to their health and social-emotional development beginning at birth, is essential,” said Judith Meyers, President and CEO of the Children’s Fund of Connecticut and its nonprofit subsidiary the Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI). “We are pleased to help community collaboratives address early child health in all aspects of their work and engage health providers along with others to optimize the chances for children’s success in school and in life.”
Grants from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund to Discovery communities across the state are made possible by partnerships with the State Department of Education, Children’s Fund of Connecticut, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Connecticut Center for School Change.
William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund’s Discovery initiative offers grants and capacity building to 52 communities and six statewide partners. Capacity building is currently available in the areas of collaboration, parent engagement, results-based accountability, community planning and decision-making, and facilitative leadership. To learn more, visit: http://discovery.wcgmf.org.
About the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund
The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund works collaboratively to improve education for Connecticut’s children by strengthening the involvement of parents and the community in education, promoting school change and informing the public debate on educational issues.