Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

UW working for childcare, preschool facilities

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2016

The Early Learning Alliance has been formed as a network within the United Way of Huntington County and plans a variety of events in 2017 to emphasize the importance of early childhood education. One goal of the alliance is to increase the number of child care and preschool facilities licensed by the Paths to Quality program, Indiana’s child care quality rating and improvement system.

Huntington County has 1,304 preschool-age children, with fewer than 50 percent enrolled in any preschool program. The alliance wants to make sure that every child in Huntington County has access to a high quality preschool program, noting that cost can limit those opportunities. The annual cost of high quality child care in Indiana averages $6,192, according to the Indiana Association of Child Care Resource & Referral.

“Research has told us for years the importance of high quality early learning is pivotal in laying the foundation for cognitive, social and emotional skills for the rest of a person’s life,” said Dr. Adam Drummond, president and CEO for the United Way of Huntington County. “We also know that 90 percent of a person’s brain is fully developed by the age of five. If we wait until kindergarten to develop these imperative skills mentioned above places our youngest learners at a disadvantage.”

Drummond cited a study noting “a seven to 10 percent return on investment based on increased school and career achievement along with reduced costs in remedial education, health care expenditures and criminal justice costs and an increased self-sufficiency and productivity among families.”

The alliance has partnered with Ivy Tech Northeast to provide certification training and education for community members interested in exploring a career in early childhood education. A series of community conversations, family education sessions and communication tools in the community along with networking opportunities for childcare and preschool providers are planned.

For more information about the Huntington County Early Learning Alliance, call the United Way office at (260) 356-6160 or visit www.huntingtonunitedway.org.