Why develop an early childhood center?
The district has had an early childhood educational readiness program since 1993. It began with private donations. A combination of state and community grants and private donations support the program now.
Kennedy has housed the early childhood educational readiness program since 2009. The program serves families meeting eligibility requirements, including families of children receiving special education and/or English as a Second Language services. Most families served qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. The district also offers services for children from birth to age five through Parents as Teachers and tiny-k Early Intervention. Head Start has had a community preschool classroom at Kennedy for several years.
An early childhood community center would expand district and community services available to families of young children at one location, Kennedy. Research shows that high quality preschool experiences benefit children’s cognitive and social development and their success in school and life. Still, many children enter kindergarten without the benefit of a high quality preschool experience.
Douglas County has recognized a gap in these services for local families and has included a focus on early childhood in the Douglas County Health Equity Report, which informed the Douglas County Health Plan.
The United Way Anti-Poverty Coalition's Plan has a focus on children and childcare. It includes Planned Strategy 1: Launch a pilot to provide high quality and affordable early care and education for birth-kindergarten Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (0-K BIPOC) children/families; and Planned Strategy 3: Develop a coordinated early care and education system to maximize childcare industry resource acquisition and efficiency.