The second week of April is an exciting time for early learning communities in Washington State, as April 10-16 is honored nation-wide as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) “Week of the Young Child™.”
“Today, we know more than ever about the importance of a child’s first years. For this reason, we are excited to celebrate the significant impact that early learning has on our state’s youth,” said DEL Director, Ross Hunter. “The recognition week also gives us the opportunity to highlight the critical need for state agencies to work together so that all children are ready for Kindergarten, regardless of their zip code.”
The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. In Washington State, the Department of Early Learning (DEL), the Department of Health (Health) and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) partner to encourage healthy development from birth and beyond.
Partners have recently set out to achieve the goals that:
· All children are Kindergarten-ready by 2020
· Race is no longer a predictor of Kindergarten readiness and academic success
These ambitious objectives come after data was released in DEL’s Early Start Act Report which determined that in the 2013-2014 school year, only 41 percent of children were Kindergarten-ready.
Another partner initiative is the Healthiest Next Generation—a Governor-launched program that helps children maintain a healthy weight, enjoy active lives and eat and drink healthfully by making changes in early learning settings, schools and communities.
“We are most effective in serving children when we work together,” said Hunter. “There is not one solution to improving child outcomes, but many solutions, by many people, in the places where children spend their time--in early learning settings, schools, and communities. Our partnerships are key in achieving progress for all these kids.”
The Week of the Young Child is celebrated by partner programs throughout the state. State agencies will be promoting the recognition week on social media, blogs and agency heads from Health and DEL are set to tour a Washington child care program dedicated to child health and development.