In 2011, Kentucky learned from a survey conducted by ChildTrends that on average as many as 40 percent of children do not go to an organized setting prior to entering kindergarten. That is, nearly half of Kentucky’s children do not have the opportunity to attend Head Start, a state funded pre-K program or community based child care. So giving all children an opportunity to succeed cannot simply be the responsibility of any one type of learning program. School readiness is a community issue.
Who are they?Established as part of the “KIDS NOW” legislation, Community Early Childhood Councils (CECCs) are local, all volunteer organizations dedicated to ensuring high quality early learning and development programs, supporting families and sharing data within their communities. These Councils have been funded at about $1 million annually since 2001.
To ensure collaboration across sectors, the legislation requires that CECCs have members from local community based childcare, the local Head Start, as well as from the school district.
What do they do?
The Community Early Childhood Councils (CECCs)
are effective agents for change in local systems that address the unique needs and strengths of local communities related to early childhood. They bring together diverse members in their local communities and mobilize them to work together to achieve community-level improvements in Kindergarten readiness. Each CECC has an appropriately broad-based membership that reflects the Commonwealth’s “whole child” approach to early learning and development.
Councils work in a variety of roles to engage families, communities, and child care and education programs, including providing training and technical assistance to STAR rated programs and serving as a local point of contact for early childhood educators in partnership with HANDS Home Visiting and other allies to provide a support structure for specific family needs.
In recent years, CECCs have place family engagement as a priority, and have access to tools and materials to inform families and communities about the importance of early care and education. This includes a toolkit provided to local CECCs with individualized logos, press releases and announcement templates, flyer templates for marketing community events and informational webinars. These tools are designed to help the CECCs bolster communication within their communities. The GOEC provides grants to CECCs and, for the first time, required each 2014 grant proposal to create a community communication plan.
How can you partner?
Step 1: Get to know your Community Early Childhood Council, and begin the process of assessing your community by the numbers using the Early Childhood Profiles to set clear and high expectations for the programs in your district.
Step 2: Build in a formal communication plan with your Community Early Childhood Council to stay current on important dates, initiatives, and opportunities to partner. Plan to meet each year, after the release of the newest kindergarten readiness data, for idea sharing and planning, and assign a designee to attend meetings.
Step 3: Host regional summits to align with Kentucky’s larger vision for kindergarten readiness and create locally developed strategies with a defined and shared understanding of the roles between parents and caring adults, schools, community partners, and early childhood providers. Develop a continuing strategy to ensure that your objectives are working together to improve child outcomes.