According to a new report released by First Steps Kent this morning, many children lack access to early childhood health services and education. The report, titled “Analyzing Gaps in Early Childhood Services," found that while strides have been made in Kent County to ensure children under the age of 6 are ready for kindergarten, many local kids start their education lacking the fundamental tools and building blocks needed to be successful.
Included in the report’s findings:
· Fewer than 1 in 5 economically disadvantaged children have access to 3-year-old preschool.
· Fewer than half of vulnerable families are getting home-based parenting education and support.
· Thousands of Kent County families can’t afford quality child care, which costs an average of $8,000 per year.
First Steps Kent President and CEO Anniemarie Valdez says that preschool is critical to a childhood’s success in Kindergarten.
“When we talk to kindergarten teachers, they know which children have had preschool, when children come unprepared to kindergarten, it takes so much longer to takes so much longer to have them catch up to their contemporaries, who have had preschool.”
The First Steps Kent report cites several actionable steps for closing the gap. Valdez says its key for the local business community to realize the investment in early childhood development is good for business.