On Sept. 25, the CB&A team gathered for an informative and moving presentation from United Way of Dane County to spark its annual fundraising campaign.
The presenters, Susan Sheldon, of Meriter Health Services, Inc., and Elizabeth Kober, the Parent-Child Home Program Coordinator at the Center For Families, focused on United Way’s Born Learning Initiative.
The Born Learning Delegation, a group of community leaders and early childhood experts, is working to increase the readiness of Dane County children for kindergarten. Initiative leaders are putting books in the hands of 2- and 3-year olds, and – with their parents’ help – pushing reading as a fun activity, and promoting the idea that children should be learning the alphabet at as early an age as possible.
According to Sheldon, 40 percent of kindergarteners in Dane County failed a readiness test last year.
There are many factors that might explain why children are not fully prepared to hit the kindergarten classroom running, but a family’s income level is often the primary one.
According to our presenters, Dane County families in a low-income bracket, on average, have only one age-appropriate book for their child by the time he or she enters kindergarten, and the child may know just one or two letters. Compare this to the status of a Pre-K child from a middle class family, who, on average, has been exposed to 54 books, and knows all 26 letters of the alphabet.
The Born Learning Initiative focuses not only on reading books, but also on encouraging play time for children involving toys that do not require batteries, Sheldon said.
For the CB&A United Way campaign, Sheldon said 86 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the program, which has grown from 43 participants last year to 84 this year.
Such early intervention in a child’s life means a greater chance for academic success down the road. We applaud the work of everyone connected to the Born Learning Initiative.
For a more detailed look at the program, download the mobilization plan from the United Way of Dane County website.