Monday, March 23, 2009
What's a best way to make sure our youth grow up with the highest chance of success? Support them when the are young and most vulnerable. That's what successful Educare centers across the United States are doing to give their at-risk children the best chance of succeeding. Their goal: to dramatically improve the quality in programming for early children and create a platform for broader policy change.
Educare centers are state-of-the-art early childhood centers designed to meet the needs of today's families who are making the transition from welfare to work and are recipients of a mix of Head Start, child care and preschool services. They serve 150-200 of their community's at-risk children (birth to 5 years) and their families. Each classroom provides a BA-degreed teacher, an assistant teacher with a AA degree, and an aid from the community. All classrooms are supervised by teachers with Master's degrees in early childhood.
So why haven't we implemented one of these innovative ideas already? Basically, its purely a financial motive: Educare centers cost around $4-5 million to build and nearly $2-3 million each year to maintain. We simply haven't allocated the resources for such a project, though of large foundations are willing to help, it wouldn't be difficult to attract the funds. Organizations such as the Gates Foundation have contributed to projects on equal scale in the past and could be a possible avenue for the future.
Kalamazoo has the unique opportunity of already having an amazing program, the Kalamazoo Promise, in place to garner support for of these centers. What better argument that to suggest that our program is not the only solution but a perfect place to start for MORE programming to ensure our children have the best possible future. We are already a model for how to make education a real possibility for every child; lets make sure that they are supported from their earliest times of learning.