The Early Learning Coalition offers program services that equally benefit the child, parent and the child care provider. The children ultimately benefit from being in high quality early learning environments, gaining skills for life and receiving appropriate developmental screenings and any needed follow up as well. The parents receive a number of services to support their goals as well as access to financial assistance with child care costs, a wide range of parent education, literacy and child development information, and/or tools to choose quality care. Our local child care providers receive a range of support such as training, coaching and technical assistance to ensure that they achieve and maintain high quality early learning environments for young children.
The intertwining of all of these services to ultimately ensure positive outcomes for young children is what makes the Early Learning Coalition such an exciting and dynamic organization. The first five years of a child’s life is the most critical for both short term and sustained long term success. Brain development is at its highest during these crucial early years. Positive experiences maximize brain development. Equally important, and perhaps most concerning, is that failure to provide quality early care for young children, or exposure to negative influences, can actually harm brain development.
Additionally, more understanding exists now of the importance of children being on grade level. If they don’t meet grade level expectations by 3rd grade, children may never catch up. The early years and school readiness skills are critical to this issue. The opportunity to intervene early in a young child’s life can literally be life changing with long term impact. Every child needs access to high quality early education to build a foundation for lifelong success.
- Over 4000 children served each year, providing access to high quality early learning experiences to build that foundation for success.
- Over 98% of parents report the services helped prepare their children to be ready for school
- 100% of parent indicated in follow up surveys that they utilize the tools and checklists that are provided to help them make informed decisions
- To date well over 22,000 informational materials with the Talk, Listen, Read early literacy messaging have been distributed within the community
- 85% of parents seen at ELC consistently indicate awareness of the specific early literacy message and 95% understand the importance of reading to ensure their children’s success.
- Over 190+ community volunteers are matched each year with 200 children within the Literacy Buddy program, providing children with increased access to books and increased writing skills through anticipatory correspondence
- Over 3500 books were provided to 1100 children at 20 different child care sites serving high % of children in poverty.
- 500 books distributed at other events within the community
Impact on Improving Access to High Quality Care
Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County continues to administer and maintain a robust Quality Rating system, known in Sarasota as the Look for the Stars, Quality Counts for Children program, now entering its 10th year. It is a comprehensive system for improving quality of child care that has demonstrated that quality of early learning programs can be improved. It focuses very specifically on measuring teacher/child interaction and those areas that research indicates is most important to positive child outcomes. The 100+ participating programs continue to reach approximately 5000 children, or 75% of all children in care. Of those sites that specifically serve School Readiness scholarship and other high risk children, 88% of the sites now participate in LFS and thus it is impacting the future success of those children most in need.
Year to year comparisons are made of the assessment data and We track the % of sites that are considered to be at 3 star level or higher, representing “consistently good care”, which is now at 91% of participating sites in 2016. Reports have been additionally commissioned at timely intervals from an outside researcher, who reviewed the data and results of the program and those reports confirm the impact that the program is having in Sarasota County. Please feel free to ask us for copies of those reports, completed at the 3 year and 5 year benchmarks.
- 60% of all child care sites in Sarasota County consistently choose to participate each year, thus maintaining a viable pool of early care and education sites receiving star rating.
- 90% providers surveyed agree with the statement: “Participating in LFS has improved quality of child care provided by my program.”
- 85% of all parents seeking child care report knowledge of the program and use the star rating information as a tool for choosing care as evidenced by surveys.
Parent surveys continue to indicate that parents identify “quality” as one of the most important element in choosing child care for their children. While cost and location are still identified as important, and those issues must be also be addressed, quality is cited as an important element noted which reflects an additional and significant positive outcome of the local system related to educating parents on quality care. Providers confirm that parents ask about this.
Visit the Look for the Stars website for more information.