The Early Learning Coalition of Seminole County funds child care for low income families and the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program for all the county’s 4 year olds. Executive Director Jennifer Grant Lessne explains the procedures to qualify for the program and the importance of selecting quality early childhood education providers (length – 19:25).
Research shows that participation in high-quality early learning programs results in long-term positive outcomes for children. Studies in neurobiology show that the years, birth to 5 are critically important for brain development. The human brain develops more rapidly during this time than at any other subsequent period.
During these early years, children develop essential language and cognitive skills, develop their ability to manage emotions and stress, and learn to cooperate with others.
However, the pace of this growth depends on whether the child’s eagerness to learn is stimulated by an educational environment rich in verbal, social and creative experiences. Reading and math achievement scores in school are consistently higher for children who have participated in early childhood education programs.
Early childhood education also reaps big benefits for taxpayers and society in the long run.
For every $1 dollar spent on early learning, it has been estimated that society saves $7 in later costs. This isn’t surprising because studies show that when children are better educated they are more likely to be healthier, pay more taxes, and are less likely to require welfare or be involved with the Criminal justice system.
The Early Learning Coalition of Seminole County is led by a 22 member board made up of business leaders, educators and private citizens from the county. The day to day operation is in the hands of executive director Jennifer Grant Lessne. In the school readiness program, low-income families that qualify for assistance contribute to the cost of child care which is then subsidized by the coalition with funds received from the federal government. All 4 year olds are eligible for a 540 hour pre-kindergarten program paid for by the Florida Department of Education at no cost to parents.