The Every Child Promise: Our Community Promises to Empower Families, So That Every Child, Age Birth-Six, Has the Opportunity to Enter Schools, Ready to Learn.
October 24th, a five member coalition including The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, The Jr. League of Springfield, The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, The Springfield-Greene County Library System, and United Way of the Ozarks, released the 2017 Community Focus Report, for Springfield and Greene County. Since its first edition in 2004, the bi-annual report assigns Blue ribbons and Red Flags to a variety of social, economic, public safety, and health issues, highlighting the successes or remaining challenges in those areas of interest.
According to Brian Fogle, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the October 24th CFR release event, held at the Springfield Art Museum, served to celebrate the successes shown in the report: “I’ve often heard Springfield has an inferiority complex; that we talk so much about our problems, that we forget about all the goodness we have here, and the things we are doing very, very well. I think we’ve been very honest and truthful about our problems, they’re there, you will see them, but we thought for the first time, let’s celebrate the things we‘ve done as a result of the Community Focus Report. We’ve had some really good things come out of that.”
One of those areas showing improvement is Early Childhood, and among the key programs fueling the successes in Early Childhood, are those within The Every Child Promise, and its mission to: Empower Families So Every Child Age Birth t to Six, Enters School Ready to Learn. Among the ECP empowerments is The Every Child Promise Scholarship Program, administered by the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and an ECP Citizen Committee.
The ECP Scholarship gives families improved access to high quality Pre-K childcare, and on this edition of Making A Difference, Victoria Ross shares her story about what 2 years of the ECP Scholarship has meant to her and her now 5 year old son: “My son Easton Dyer is a recipient of the every Child Promise Scholarship. He attends Lighthouse Childcare and Development, at the Turning Point Baptist Church.”
Victoria Ross works full time for the State of Missouri, and part time on weekends at Big Whiskey’s; she says the ECP Scholarship has brought her out of pocket day-care costs, from $125 to $85 a week, but she says, it’s worth much more than the $40 dollar difference, and in many other ways. “For Easton, it helped because he knows where he’s going every day. He’s going to go to school, he’s going to learn, and he’s going with the same kids and teachers. I work Monday through Friday and on weekends, but he’s home 6 days a week with me. That’s nice because it’s comforting to him; it’s more stable for him, and he’s a very structured child. So without it, it gets rough for him, and now that things are more structured and stable these last couple of years, it’s been better for him. He grows with that.”
With each edition of the Community Focus Report, comes confirmation that Early Childhood, and programs like Every Child Promise, connect in positive ways to many of the CFR’s other chapters, like Education; Citizen Participation; Community Health; Public Order and Safety; and, in Victoria Ross’ case, Business and Economic Development and Housing: “We bought a house last year, Easton and I. It was great, and it’s a trickle effect because of course we have these outside bills we have to pay before we can go out and by a house, but Every Child Promise lowers my son’s tuition for pre-school, which then allows me to make up the difference to pay the normal price for him to go to school. I mean, we have this house now. Easton calls it his Forever Home and ECP has allowed me to provide it for him. ECP has provided this for my family, and now I can provide for him, so all around, the social, economic and mental stability has been wonderful for him.”
Dana Carroll is Springfield’s Child Advocate, for Every Child Promise, and for the last 18 years, has spearheaded Early Childhood and Family Development programs for the Community Partnership of the Ozarks: “We want a lot of family participation. It’s not just Bring Your Kid, and that’s it. We want involvement in their education and in the program. When The every Child Promise was born, it has a focus to empower families so we could ensure kids were ready for school, and schools were ready for kids. From a family perspective, we want to see some commitment to the program, including that they sign up with Parents As Teachers. We also want a strong commitment from the program facility. That they are more than just warehousing children; that they really are interested in teaching children and growing them from an early age. So there are qualifications for them as well.”
Dana Carroll says she and her colleagues at the CPO and the CFO, have tracked the trends of Pre-K kids Readiness to Learn, and gives shared for the 2017 upswing to Every Child Promise; the community focus on Early Childhood, and the Community Focus Report itself: “Two years ago, we were in dire straits. Our readiness had fallen quite a bit, and that was right on the heels of ECP starting up. Two years later here we are seeing increased readiness and declines in kids not ready. The CFR reports out on where we are, and through assessment we’ve determined 100% of the kids who went to kindergarten on the ECP Scholarship, were ready to enter school, Ready to Learn.”
Meanwhile, Easton Dyer’s mom, Victoria Ross says her son is: “Mentally more stable, socially more stable. The people in his life are there. He knows he’s going to school every day. He doesn’t know that mommy ever had a problem affording it, but he just knows he’s going to be there. My son will never know that I had any problems, but he will know there have been people out there who have helped support us.”
The good work of The Every Child Promise is done under the umbrella of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks. For information on the ECP Scholarship: www.everychildpromise.org