This week we’ll finish up our discussion of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report “The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success” and the low academic scores of American third-graders. The Foundation’s first two recommendation to improve outcomes for our children are to “support parents as they care for their children” and to “improve access to quality early care and education, health care and other services.” Their third and final recommendation is to “ensure that care is comprehensive and coordinated for all children from birth through age 8.”
As individual child care providers, most of us cannot set up state-wide systems to ensure seamless care for children from birth to 8. But we can work within our own communities to try to improve communication. Perhaps we can partner with our school district so that our staff can attend some of the same trainings that local Kindergarten teachers attend. We can also make sure that parents of children in our care are aware of the various community resources available; health care services, parent education programs or opportunities, financial resources, and resources for children with special needs. This information can be provided one-on-one, included in newsletters, or posted on bulletin boards.
One great way to ensure continuity of care is to work with local Kindergarten teachers to ensure that, ideally, your goals for a child entering their program from your program are similar. (Hopefully, the teachers’ expectations are developmentally appropriate.) Similarly, if you have signed parental permission, you can share the latest developmental checklist you’ve completed for a child with the teacher. In addition to providing benefit to both the child and the teacher who will teach that child in Kindergarten, you can also benefit your own program. A good relationship with local teachers can lead to more referrals to your program. Win-win!