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National groups partner to improve kindergarten readiness

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NACo is partnering with four organizations to improve kindergaten readiness by focusing on children ages 0-3

NACo, the  National League of Cities, Center for the Study of Social Policy, National Institute for Children’s Health Quality and StriveTogether recently announced a partnership to work with communities nationwide to improve kindergarten readiness by focusing on child development from birth to three.

The partnership will be funded by the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), a project of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, to enhance local supports for infants, toddlers and their families. The Sorenson Impact Center, housed at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, will work with PCI and the partner organizations to manage the initiative. This is the first in a series of PCI-supported national, state and local efforts to improve kindergarten readiness for children.

Each year, an estimated 3 million children across the United States are at risk of reaching kindergarten not ready to learn. This network of partners will work together to significantly reduce this number by promoting programs and services that focus on a healthy start at birth, support families with infants and toddlers and provide high-quality care and learning environments. Research shows that investment in children and their families in the earliest years helps communities create better education, health, social and economic outcomes that increase revenue and reduce the need for costly, less effective interventions later in life.

“Communities across the country are leading innovative efforts to address the unique needs of infants and toddlers and, in turn, drive better education, health and economic outcomes for our entire nation,” said Janet Froetscher, president, J.B and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation.

“We plan to harness this momentum to build on promising community-based approaches, share their lessons broadly and move forward together,” she said.

“We are confident that through close collaboration and a shared focus on our nation’s youngest children, this strong network of partners will be able to build local capacity to achieve the greatest outcomes for as many children as possible.”

These organizations will work together to implement a multipronged strategy focused on building local capacity to best reach infants and toddlers and their families and bring promising programs to scale. They also will leverage each other’s strengths and share best practices to maximize the reach of high-quality services for young children and stimulate a coordinated movement with lasting impact. To achieve this mission, the partner organizations will equip communities with tools and resources to build strong early childhood systems and share best practices with other cities, counties and states. PCI will encourage local partners to disseminate content that will help drive policies that make the case for public and private investment in core services for infants and toddlers.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to advance county efforts to serve some of our most vulnerable residents, especially children under the age of 3 and families living in poverty,” said NACo President Roy Charles Brooks. “When we make investments and demonstrate leadership in early childhood development, we will lower future costs in health, child welfare, public safety and justice services. This unprecedented partnership will help us build healthier, more vibrant, safer communities across the nation.”

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