Community Impact: Investing in Children
Our goal is that all children enter kindergarten developmentally in their literacy, social, emotional, and intellectual skills. Our community outcome, or product, will be to ensure that all students in the county have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life by helping them to experience the best early education possible.
Our first action step is to provide scholarships for children from low-income families as identified by each preschool.
- Evidence abounds that preschool prepares children for kindergarten; promotes social, intellectual and emotional development; promotes language and cognitive skills; nurtures a child’s creativity; boosts pre-math and literacy skills; and helps develop motor skills.
- The benefits of preschool attendance also include overall academic achievement and school success, fewer grade repetitions and referrals to special education, and increased high school graduation rates. High quality preschool programs benefit children from all strata of society.
Family economic hardship is consistently associated with academic failure and poor health. As early as 24 months, children in low-income families can show lags in cognitive and behavioral development (National Center for Children in Poverty).
According to WaKIDS 2015 data for our region (Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties), only 34.6% of low-income children were ready for kindergarten. In San Juan County, 5.1% of incoming kindergarteners were not ready in any area of development in fall 2015, while only 26.6% were ready in all areas.
In San Juan County in 2015:
- There were 315 households with children under age six. Seventeen percent of these children were living in extreme poverty, with 125 children served by CPS, Child Welfare, and Family Reconciliation.
- Of children under six, 67% had both parents in the workforce, the highest in the region, where the state average is 59.6%.
- The minimum childcare cost in the county was $1395 per month, often a family’s biggest expense.
- Low income students fared less well in school; only 68.9% of students from low-income households in SJC graduated from high school in four years, as compared to 75.2% for students overall.
Why aren’t we achieving our goals already? What is most important to address?
Financial assistance is needed in the form of scholarships because the costs of preschool are prohibitive for many low-income families. This is the first problem to address in order to tackle the issue of generational and other forms of poverty.