Posted by Molly
Last week, Gov. Gregoire signed the 2008 supplemental operating and capital budgets. One of the major highlights of the capital budget was the significant investment to support one of Washington’s early leaning initiatives – the Thrive by Five communities. White Center and Yakima County are the two communities that were selected more than a year ago to design comprehensive early learning networks for children ages birth to 5.
The White Center Early Learning Initiative is the first private-public model for early learning in Washington. It has brought local stakeholder groups and businesses together to develop plans to make positive early learning opportunities-whether at home or in child care centers-available to families in the White Center community.
One of the most exciting parts of the capital budget was the $2 million allocated to the construction of the Greenbridge Early Learning Center in White Center in addition to the $7 million provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The center will serve as a headquarters for education and outreach services in the community.
In addition, funding, both private and public, will be used to support a range of programs targeted at children from birth to 5, their parents, and caregivers, including:
- Outreach services to pregnant women and recent mothers through the Community Doula program, which pairs new mothers with trained women who provide emotional support and guidance;
- Nurse home visitation for expectant families through their children’s first years;
- Play and learn groups for toddlers; and
- Literacy resources for parents.
Existing Head Start centers in the community will receive grants to improve teacher qualifications and program quality. In addition, grant funds will enhance the learning environments of licensed child care centers, preschools, and family child care homes through professional development for staff and a quality rating and improvement system that will make better information available to parents.
Plans to get the Yakima program started are underway and should be unveiled soon – just watch the blog for the latest news.
These two projects, once fully implemented, will not only greatly improve these communities, but they will most importantly improve the overall early learning infrastructure in Washington. The lessons learned and the insights gained by these projects will be leveraged to improve the programs and interventions available for families and children throughout our state so they will be successful in school and life.