THE EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL
As part of United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley’s community impact model, the Education Advisory Council comprises volunteers who have the passion and expertise to compile and study local data related to education, establish and build upon relationships with service providers and institutions that impact successful learning, and create a strategic plan to help ensure academic success.
In June of 2013, United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley and the Education Advisory Council produced “Entering School Ready to Succeed,” an introduction to the Successful Children’s Network. The Successful Children's Netowrk is a comprehensive program to help ensure all children enter school ready to succeed.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION
Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success; however, in 2012, 212 students (12%) in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties did not complete high school. It is estimated to be more than $55 million in lost wages, and almost $13 million in lost income tax contributions over these students’ lifetimes.
High school drop-outs are many years in the making, and the problems start early. Those without reading skills by the end of third grade, are unlikely to graduate from high school.
United Way’s Education Advisory Council has chosen to address this issue at the beginning, with “school readiness,” because research shows that:
- Learning begins at birth, and the first five years are critical to future academic achievement and social success.
- Quality early learning experiences promote optimal child development.
- Children entering kindergarten with the cognitive, social and emotional skills necessary for success, are more likely to graduate from high school and become contributing members of society.
Investing in early education pays off in myriad ways, including higher graduation rates, better job skills, increased homeownership, and less likelihood of criminal activities.
A child’s early years, from birth until school age, are a unique period of growth and development—learning to walk and talk, beginning to think independently, understanding how to communicate, and learning to control thoughts and emotions. Positive learning experiences in early childhood help lay the foundation for their future. These experiences impact not only children’s ability to function well in kindergarten, but also whether or not they’ll be reading proficiently by third grade, succeeding in eighth grade, or graduating from high school.
Children learn best when they are engaged in loving, nurturing relationships, and their primary learning occurs through everyday experiences. Whether children are at home, with relatives or friends, or in childcare, the quality of early experiences is key to later school success.
Social, emotional and intellectual learning are inextricably linked. Supportive relationships and healthy interactions actually shape brain circuits and lay a foundation for academic and developmental successes. In fact, 85% of the brain’s development happens before kindergarten.
ECONOMIC CHALLENGES TO LEARNING
In March of 2012, The Brookings Institution reported that only 48% of our nation’s poor children are ready for school at age five, compared with 75% of children from families with moderate to high income levels, representing a 27% difference.
Persistent poverty, poor health and nutrition, absent parents and/or homelessness, can severely impact a child’s ability to learn and develop. This is why the Successful Children’s Network is targeting children in households who are economically at risk.
THE SUCCESSFUL CHILDREN’S NETWORK
All children in the Chippewa Valley will enter school ready to succeed.
Children ages birth to five, in households below 200% of poverty guidelines.
Children from the target population will enter school with age-appropriate development in the following areas:
- Health and physical well-being – Children will have adequate nutrition, utilize medical and dental care, engage in appropriate physical activity, and experience healthy routines.
- Social and emotional development – Children will be able to express and respond to emotions, express a good self-concept, and experience positive interactions.
- Language and general knowledge – Children will be able to problem-solve, to listen and understand, to speak and communicate, and have experiences in early literacy.