Ready for Kindergarten

Securing the Start  - Aspen to Parachute

90% of brain development occurs between birth and five years old. That is why the Cradle to Career Leadership Team and Ready for Kindergarten Network are committed to "Securing the Start" for all children from Aspen to Parachute. This is a multi-layered endeavor ranging from a 30,000 foot view to investigate the viability of creating a sustainable funding stream to support Early Childhood Education and Care, (ECE), to strengthening the ECE system, so that all children enter kindergarten on a level playing field.

ACF's flagship program to address preschool needs in the RE-2 School District (New Castle to Rifle) is the Preschool on Wheels program, licensed mobile classrooms that drive into neighborhoods to serve children and families who cannot get to traditional preschool programs. 

The initial work of the Ready for Kindergarten Network involved creating projects designed to fill gaps within the ECE landscape.  The focus of these included increasing family engagement, establishing mechanisms to assess and improve quality of programs, and increasing access to affordable quality care and preschool.  Early projects include:
Home Visits:  Increasing family visits to mothers with risk facors to help them understand the developmental and educational needs of their children. Research shows that such visits can substantially increase the odds that their children will later graduate from high school.

CCI provided Home Visits training to thirty providers in western Garfield County, fall 2017.  Preschool on Wheels has implemented home visits to build community among the parents, grandparents, home providers and POW program.

TS Gold:  Adopting a common kindergarten readiness assessment and preschool quality improvement tool across our region to strengthen teaching, implement targeted student interventions, and identify the gaps in kindergarten readiness, so that we can make necessary improvements to ensure a level playing field in kindergarten.

Jumpstart: Providing a five-week, full day, summer prekindgarten program designed for children enrolled in Roaring Fork School District kindergarten who have had no preschool experience.

Culture of Literacy: Providing support for elementary schools to increase family engagement with a focus on literacy skills. (Three-year pilot)
  • As CCI matures, the Ready for Kindergarten Network has shifted its focus from project design to systems building. The Network has been working to imagine and design a stronger ECE system that more effectively supports all children and families. Though a highly complex endeavor, the group embraces the opportunity to work toward a sustainable solution to "securing the start" for the youngest residents throughout our region. This work includes looking at all elements of an ideal system and determining priorities. The Network has mapped out our current state and is in the process of imagining what a desired system might look like, understanding the need to differentiate for our varied communities.  In addition, we are strengthening elements of the system in the near term.
  • Areas of focus include:
  • Increase in tuition assistance for higher risk children.
  • Provide scholarship for ECE professionals seeking certification, AA or BA degrees.
  • Pilot to increase wellness screenings in Eagle County through the Roaring Fork School-based Health Center.
  • Profide support and training to increase the quality of family and caregiver engagement.
  • Assist caregivers who would like to become licensed.  Click here to apply for the Home Child Care Grant Application
In the fall of 2016, the CCI Leadership Team identified "securing the start" for all children in the region as its highest lever to reach the Initiative's other goals. Volumes of research point to the early years as critical to success later in life. Comprised of school district, nonprofit, and business leaders, ECE providers, and community members, a regional task force is working with a team of consultants to assess the viability of sustainable funding to support Early Childhood Education and Care. The prohibitive cost of high quality care for children birth to five years old effects not only the children, but also the families, their employers, and our regional economy.

With funding from Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, we are beginning a three year endeavor to assess the transition from Preschool to Kindergarten throughout the region.  A cohort of elementary school principals, teachers and preschool directors will collaborate to ensure that each child and family experiences a "warm hand off" from preschool to kindergarten that honors the critical development of the early years.