Jamie wanted to attend preschool but her parents could not afford another expense. Jamie’s parents learned about the education programs funded by United Way at a community event offering no cost immunizations for preschoolers. Excited to see if they could qualify for the education scholarship, Jamie’s parents called the HOTLINE at 892-2361.
The family picked up their scholarship application at their local preschool and felt welcomed by the teachers and parents. They also were thankful to learn that United Way sponsored scholarships for infant/toddler children to ensure the family stays together. Jamie has started preschool, her parents are able to focus on work and college, knowing that their children are receiving the highest quality of child care and school-readiness education.
Each year, hundreds of children and their families access United Way’s tuition assistance and just like Jamie, become confident in their ability to learn and make friends. Jamie and her brother will now be prepared to start Kindergarten and enjoy a highly successful academic journey. Learning to be self-assured as a child has been a key indicator of success for families and children that maintain focus on high school graduation and career readiness.
“What we are doing impacts the child’s development from birth to age five. Their morals and values are created, this is the cornerstone of their life,” said Tamy Gates, Director, Hill and Dale Family Learning Center. “I think we as a society have early childhood education and college reversed, and teachers who have degrees in education should be teaching our children. We really count on United Way to help us supplement our income and give children an opportunity to have quality care in a quality center.”
According to Tamy, early childhood education is a monumental tool to help provide the children who attend Hill and Dale with a solid academic, social and emotional foundation to prepare them for their future endeavors. She cited the study by HighScope Educational Research Foundation that tracked for forty years the financial results of a quality preschool education. The results clearly demonstrate that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, $17 dollars are saved in the reduced need for social and remedial services over the span of a child to an adult and in all communities.
“Children with a solid start in life will be prepared to attend high school and college and be contributing members to the community instead of draining from society,” said Tamy. “I just don’t think there is a more critical time in a person’s life than early childhood.”
During the last five years, United Way funded hundreds of early childhood education scholarships, provided over 200,000 hours of innovative professional development for preschool teaching staff at 70 partner Child Development Centers and inspired 5,665 families to contribute 10,703 volunteer hours and participate in family engagement training workshops at their Child Development Centers.
“I can tell you every year the classrooms improve and the teachers learn so much when they go through the child assessment and curriculum training. The children learn. It teaches us a better way of working with the children,” said Tamy.
The training concepts focus on technique and methodology to ensure that teachers understand that all children are interested and eager to learn and teachers are responsible for creating active and fun learning environments. Children benefit most when their teachers follow their lead.
Jamie for example, spotted a colorful butterfly outside of her classroom window and was curious about bugs and insects. After going through the teacher training, Jamie’s teacher brought to life her interest in butterflies and taught Jamie and her class all about the fascinating world of insects with hands-on learning activities. Yes, they touched and watched worms for days.
“Instead of forcing them to learn, we allow them to set the tone and the direction,” said Tamy. “They will retain and learn so much more from that approach.”
Tamy believes that without United Way’s scholarship funding the Center that has been in operation for over 25 years would not have survived the recession. It has allowed the Center to help more children receive a quality early childhood education and employ more staff.
“I would like to say thank you United Way on behalf of my staff for helping to keep us employed,” said Tamy. “I just love seeing the children come through the door and be successful. This is our future.”
If you or your friends would like to learn more about the United Way funded education initiatives, please contact Dolores Hauck, Sr. Director, Community Development (Doloresh@uwsn.org).