Here’s some exciting news… this month, Thompson joined Mecklenburg County in their initiative to clear the child care subsidy waiting list and provide universal Pre-K to 100% of 4-year-olds. The counties most recent census has shown that there are 22,107 children under age five who are eligible for a child care subsidy. Did you know that of those children, only 19 percent of income-eligible children receive assistance? This means that over two-thirds of future students, residents, taxpayers, and employees in this city are operating at a deficit upon entering their 12-year educational journey.
The CDC has long broadcasted the statistic that kids achieve 90% of their adult brain volume by age 6. But in Charlotte, a little less than half (40% to be exact) of third-graders can read at grade level. Outside of reports, presentations, and task forces, these statistics have faces. They are mainly the faces of the low-wealth children who, without access to the fundamental foundations to education, will only continue to carry on the cycle of generational poverty as they continue to struggle against the gaping economic gap in our city. A gap that hides behind the headlines of luxury apartment buildings colonizing areas once considered affordable. At Thompson, we believe that Early Childhood Education (ECE) will be the great equalizer.
ECE has been cited as one of the most beneficial aspects of increasing social capital for the economically disadvantaged according to the CDC. Fundamentally, it minimizes the gaps in school preparedness. From there, once a child has access to a Pre-K program, it can begin to address the adverse childhood experiences common for children in low-income families. These early interventions can avoid or reduce the developmental delays that compromise a child’s healthy development ultimately inhibiting school readiness.
Mecklenburg County is all in for increasing ECE opportunities. Six-million-dollars-and-then-some-all-in. Thompson has answered the call for assistance, and we want to empower other childcare agencies in the area to do the same.
We’ve developed partnerships with both CMS and NC Pre-K to open up slots in our 5-Star Child Development Center to children who fall under the subsidy and children who are at risk of developmental delays.
In total, we’ve begun by serving 36 children on our expertly developed curriculum, which started this September. We opened 3 new classrooms at the center and brought on four additional staff to maintain our 1:9 child to teacher ratio. We utilize the Creative Curriculum for Infant, Toddlers & Twos, and Preschool, a research-based program that fosters skills like language, social-emotional, cognitive and literacy all focused on kindergarten readiness.
In addition, we’re providing bussing for children within a six-mile radius of our facility, which is located in the West Boulevard Corridor. To accommodate for working families the center also operates on extended hours opening up 6:30 am and closing at 6 pm. These additions to the center were made specifically with increasing economic mobility in mind. Special attention is paid to ensure parents feel just as supported and empowered as the children.
Overall, this growth model we’re creating is projected to continue serving all the children who fall under this subsidy, or in other words need the Pre-K but simply can’t afford it. And we’ve seen results. Our outcomes from last year showed an increase- 85% of children reaching their developmental expectations. We also have a significant effort in place to continue the progress of our children after they graduate. Thompson’s strength as an organization is that our services operate on a continuum. When a child enters Thompson (either at our child development center, in foster care, or residential services) they become wrapped in all we have to offer. We can and do continue to serve these children through outpatient therapy, family education, and most recently Friends of the Children.
We’re excited to take that momentum into this school year and even on to the next. We’re preparing to grow even more as Mecklenburg continues to expand its programs. All of the information regarding program openings and updates can be found on our website (www.thompsoncff.org) and you can contact us using a form built into the site to schedule a tour of the center or put your child on our list to be considered for admission. We also offer mentorship to childcare agencies in need of support.
As we roll into 2019 the time for planning is passed. Our city is growing and we have identified the largest faults in the foundation. At Thompson, we are now holding ourselves accountable for delivering results. As teachers, parents, donors, and residents, we deserve action!