Committed To Giving Every Child A Healthy Start
The statistic is as surprising as it is troubling: nationally, 27 out of every 1,000 children are expelled from child care centers every year, and almost seven are expelled from pre-kindergarten programs, according to a 2016 Yale report cited by the federal Office of Child Care at Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
Not only are children who are denied access to early education programs less likely to succeed in kindergarten, studies have also shown they experience more problems throughout their school years and beyond.
The Dauphin County commissioners are committed to giving children a healthy start by working with early child care providers, parents, schools and other stakeholders to provide training in positive behavior strategies and offer other resources that help address the conduct that may lead to suspensions and expulsions.
By the end of 2019, the county has a goal of reaching 468 at-risk infants and toddlers, with that number increasing to 2,342 children by December 2023.
As part of the initiative, which focuses on the critical prenatal-to-3 years of development, the county is coordinating with a wide range of service providers to connect families with prenatal and comprehensive health care. The county is also holding seminars and trainings for early childcare providers – as well as parents – aimed at recognizing the signs of behavioral problems and approaches to help children develop the social-emotional skills needed for success in school and life.
The initiative began in 2018 after Dauphin was one of only eight counties – and the only one in Pennsylvania – to receive a $25,000 grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to begin addressing early childhood issues. Additionally, Dauphin County is working with the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT). NCIT has also teamed up with Pritzker on various efforts to help communities across the country enhance and develop early childhood programs.
Educating parents and those involved in caring for children about the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is another priority. Research shows childhood trauma can lead to antisocial behavior that can manifest early in life, and if not addressed, may lead to later issues such as drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, and suicide.
Dauphin County’s Early Intervention Program has hosted discussion groups and panels with over 1000 representatives of the community, including teachers, parents, caregivers/foster families, medical institutions, human services organizations, employees of the criminal justice system and systems of care networks, local community-based providers and the faith-based community. These discussions help dispel generations of myths and highlight effective strategies and available local resources.
Moving forward, we are continuing to reach out to the community at local fairs and block parties to highlight early intervention services and encourage families to share their success stories. We are also partnering with school districts to identify children coming to kindergarten with unaddressed developmental delays and target those communities for outreach activities.
Ensuring our children have an opportunity to thrive requires the effort of our entire community. Dauphin County is proud to take a leading role in providing families with the support they need to give our next generation a bright future.
For More Information
About The Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI)
The Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), a project of the J.B. and M. K. Pritzker Family Foundation, is committed to building a promising future for our country by investing in and supporting solutions in early childhood development for children prenatal to age three, with the goal of every child reaching kindergarten ready to learn.
About the National Collaborative For Infants and Toddlers (NCIT)
Funded through the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, NCIT brings together national partners, early childhood leaders, philanthropists, policymakers, and practitioners inside and outside state and local governments to create and strengthen promising policies and programs, so that more states and communities can support the healthy development of our youngest children.