Get Our Children and Families Ready for Kindergarten
Every Child a Reader in Escambia, Inc. dba ECARE
The mission of Every Child a Reader in Escambia (ECARE) is to maximize children’s potential through increased school readiness, with a goal of ensuring all children in the community are ready. Their vision is that every student starts kindergarten ready to learn. In Escambia County, 53% of children entering kindergarten are not ready. These guiding principles keep the organization’s focus on interventions targeting Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten students that demonstrate results toward kindergarten readiness. In October of 2006, a planning group of community leaders published a business case supporting the creation ECARE. ECARE was proposed to be a community-wide, business-led coalition of representatives from all segments of the community. In 2011 ECARE launched Project Ready, a strategic, results-oriented effort to improve kindergarten readiness that could be expanded with the addition of resources rather than individual initiatives. Today ECARE continues its original mission to seek opportunities to collaborate, leverage and maximize existing resources, and avoid duplication by working closely with community partners, all to increase kindergarten readiness.
IMPACT 100 grant funds will be used to implement a family engagement program for Escambia County families of prekindergarten age children. It will provide books and literacy-based tips and tools to families and their young children. The result will be students who will have a greater opportunity to be ready for kindergarten and future academic success. Research shows that a predictor of how likely a child is to graduate on time from high school can be traced back to their earlier education achievements, including scores from 3rd grade reading – successes linked back to initial kindergarten readiness. Funds will also be allocated to partially fund a dedicated family engagement coordinator to enroll and coach families, and capture and report data and outcomes. The project also includes staff training, and the purchase and maintenance of a database that will track students and families and allow ECARE to leverage donors. ECARE will also invest in infrastructure to both coach and incentivize families to participate. ECARE will hold family engagement events, and provide activity kits to include books, curriculum, and a text service for regular communications. A marketing campaign will be developed to create awareness, recruit volunteers, and provide sustainability for ECARE. Surveys will be conducted to measure outcomes.
Ultimately including families in the education process in a way that is driven by them will maximize children’s potential and increase school readiness. ECARE aims to help families learn what being ready for kindergarten looks like. More than half of area children are not ready when they enter kindergarten. Added to the current programs at ECARE, this family engagement project will allow ECARE to continue to strengthen relationships with families currently being served as well as reach more students and families. This program is aimed at reaching Title I pre-kindergarten families with the highest needs. The current served population demographic is: 66% Black, 18% White, 8% Multi-racial, 7% Hispanic, .5% Asian and .5% American Indian. ECARE works directly with the school district to identify the highest need zip codes. ECARE will also collaborate with faithbased voluntary pre-kindergarten programs in target zip codes. The goal is to successfully grow and expand this program with funding by IMPACT 100 as a starting point. ECARE believes that all children deserve an education and the ability to realize their full potential.