2012 Press Release: United Way and Community Foundation Announce $73K Grant for Kindergarten Readiness Program

SPRINGFIELD – United Way and The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln (CFLL) announced today the first-ever grant made from the United Way Communityworks Endowment Fund. Community Child Care Connection, Inc. (CCCC) was awarded $73,700 to implement a program that is focused on ensuring all children in Sangamon County are ready for kindergarten.

To achieve this aspiration, CCCC will be working closely with partners including early childhood centers, school districts, families, and the Sangamon County Regional Office of Education. The program, employing a full-time coordinator, will screen three, four and five year old children with a universal tool and when necessary, connect children to appropriate resources.

“The goals of this $73 thousand kindergarten readiness grant are in line with United Way’s focus on educational initiatives that provide support beyond the classroom. Now, as a community, we’ll be able to more accurately assess whether children are ready for kindergarten from their first day and better determine whether they need additional resources to succeed,” said Rod Lane, United Way’s Director of Community Impact.

During the 2012-13 school year, 39 early childhood centers are expected to participate in the program using the Brigance Early Childhood Assessment tool to screen approximately 2,100 children. In addition, three community screening events are being planned to help diversify the pool of children screened.
The program has been in development for three years as critical partnerships and resources aligned throughout the community to create a sustainable, effective program. The key outcomes sought for the scaled-up program include:
• Expanding and diversifying services to children across Sangamon County;
• Strengthening kindergarten readiness skills by linking the screenings and ongoing assessments with instruction; and
• Increasing family knowledge and skills through engagement and training.

CCCC Executive Director Tiffany Simmons anticipates the program will make more resources available to more families regardless of socioeconomic status and promote parental involvement in a child’s readiness. “It’s thrilling to think about how this project will impact the education of our children,” said Simmons.

“This grant is a great story of innovative, collaborative efforts between funders and the community,” said John Stremsterfer, CFLL Executive Director. “By aligning our goals and resources, we’re maximizing our ability to provide children and families with a higher quality of services.