Secure the Start

Supporting the Healthy Development and Kindergarten Readiness of Children
90% of brain development occurs between birth and five years old and provides the foundation for sound social, emotional and cognitive development. Because of this, we must educate and care for young children to set them up for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Children who have reliable relationships with adults, enriching environments, and adequate nutrition will develop strong brain structures that enable them to focus, engage and learn. Programs that support parents, such as evidence-based home visitation, and high-quality preschool are among the strategies that can improve kindergarten readiness for children from low-income households and for those that experience adverse childhood experiences such as domestic violence, substance abuse and chaotic homes.

Levers for Success
About 5,000 children, ages birth to 5, live in the Aspen to Parachute region. Each year, 1,000 of these children enter kindergarten. However, more than 30% of these incoming kindergartners are “not ready,” meaning they lack the developmental skills that make it easier to learn and succeed in school.

ACF’s has a goal that 100% of incoming kindergarteners are assessed as “ready.” Meeting this goal requires a multipronged approach that pushes on four key levers in the early childhood space:
      A. INCREASE HOME VISITS TO AT-RISK PARENTS
      B. BOOST THE QUALITY AND SAFETY OF FAMILY/FRIENDS/NEIGHBOR CARE
      C. EXPAND ACCESS TO AND QUALITY OF LICENSED CHILDCARE
      D. DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE, TAX-BASED FUNDING FOR EARLY EDUCATION

Many organizations are addressing parts of the problem of improving kindergarten readiness by focusing on a single lever or specific program. ACF is unique in that it will coordinate and connect actions and programs across all four levers. We have identified the most effective providers in each area of need and will work with them to enhance their impact and expand their services. 

Accomplishments

  • Expanded use of TS GOLD and regional data collection on kindergarten readiness
  • Focus on increasing quality of Family, Friends and Neighbor care
  • Engaging business leaders to advocate for early childhood education policies
  • Collaborative projects to fill identified gaps in service and to gather data
  • Increase in preschool participation for four-year-olds
  • Increase in the number and quality of licensed home care providers in Garfield County
  • Implementation of Eagle County's Early Childhood Roadmap in the Basalt/El Jebel
  • Influence interest in state legislation to create special taxing districts for early childhood education and care