Grant allows Dist. 200 to expand early childhood programs

 
By Jeff Schuler
Inside District 200
Posted1/13/2015 12:21 PM
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  • Jeff Schuler Inside District 200

    Jeff Schuler Inside District 200

The first five years of a child's life are vitally important because they lay the foundation for everything that follows -- learning, behavior, physical and mental health.

It is important that our schools, parents and other service providers work together to lay a solid foundation for every child in our community. At-risk children who do not receive an early childhood education are more likely to drop out of school, more likely to be placed in special education, more likely to never attend college and more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

Early childhood programs and interventions are the most cost-effective way to ensure the healthy development of children and offer a high level of return to our community.

I am excited to share with you that the Wheaton Warrenville community, through a partnership between Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, Metropolitan Family Services of DuPage, KinderCare and Positive Parenting DuPage, recently was awarded a preschool expansion grant from the U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services to expand access to full-day preschool services for 4-year-olds. Only 18 other communities in Illinois received the grant.

Beginning in February, approximately 20 additional at-risk students in our community will be able to receive a high-quality early childhood education. Due to lack of space at Jefferson Early Childhood Center and throughout our elementary schools, we are working with KinderCare in Winfield for classroom space. For the 2015-16 school year, we are still securing space to open an additional two classrooms -- allowing a total of 60 additional students a high-quality early childhood education.

A little more than a year ago, through the generous support of the DuPage Community Foundation, District 200 joined forces with Metropolitan Family Services to form the Wheaton Warrenville Early Childhood Collaborative.

The collaborative is a group of more than 25 community agencies, early childhood service providers and supporters of early childhood programs in DuPage County. Working together to improve kindergarten readiness, the collaborative focuses on increasing access to services for those in under-resourced areas of the community.

Jefferson Early Childhood Center is home to the district's youngest learners, ages 3 to 5. Jefferson plays a critical and vital role in the collaborative by providing developmental screenings for children, staff development for partner organizations and parent education and family support through common messaging, materials and community connections.

To learn more, visit cusd200.org/jefferson.

• Jeff Schuler is superintendent of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200. His column appears monthly during the school year.

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