In Ventura County, over 22,000 children are between ages 3 and 4, qualifying them for early childhood education (preschool). Unfortunately, approximately 12,000 of these children are unable to gain access to this vital and life-changing opportunity. Together, we can fix this!
The challenges are many, and include:
- Availability of appropriate facilities located throughout the county.
- Workforce Conditions: Is the system capable of hiring a relatively large number of qualified teachers, trainers and other specialists?
- Transportation for children from their homes to educational centers located throughout the county.
- Administrative operations that can manage the programs from either a centralized or decentralized system.
- Creation of a parental support system.
As you can see, the variety and complexity of issues currently preventing access to high quality early childhood education will take all of us working together to solve.There are areas in our own community where the likelihood of undergoing adverse early childhood experiences is extremely high. We see a pattern of zip codes that have a prevalence of poverty, food insecurity, single parent households experiencing daily childcare crisis, and a lack of affordable housing. These risks expose children to a 90% to 100% likelihood of one or more delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development.
One of these zip codes is our beloved Santa Paula. Out of an estimated 968 children ages 3 and 4 living in Santa Paula, 773 have either federal or state income eligibility for preschool. Furthermore, the remaining 195 may still qualify for subsidized preschool. Unfortunately, about half of these entitlement dollars are not being accessed. Working together, we can solve this too!
Santa Paula is a prime example for demonstrating how establishment of a high-quality early childhood education system can be paid through the existing government preschooling entitlements, combined with philanthropy. We believe that Santa Paula is uniquely positioned to be the first community in California where 100% of all children have access to full-time, highest quality early childhood education opportunities, and that this pilot program will be the first phase of a larger effort so that all children in Ventura County are able to access the most effective and promising anti-poverty strategy – education!
Your community foundation is going all in to ensuring the earliest possible interventions to help young children grow and thrive and to build strong, nurturing families.
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“The idea of “children are the future” is not a Cliché’. It is one of the most potent arguments for creating a better tomorrow for all. The skill sets young children need to develop as they mature to create a good life, become productive, healthy, emotionally balanced and socially engaged are increasingly becoming a multifaceted subject.” – Jamshid Damooei, Ph.D.