The Readiness Gap
Too many children from low-income families begin school already far behind. The research also shows that these children are less likely to be read or spoken to regularly or to have access to books, literacy-rich environments, high-quality early care, and prekindergarten programs. Research shows that such interactions are critical for language development, an important precursor to literacy.
Since 2012, Campaign partners have made strides to improve school readiness for children in Dubuque. In 2014, Northeast Iowa Community College and the Dubuque Community School District developed a partnership to address a shortage of qualified teachers for preschool and child care centers in the community. The partnership helped make tremendous strides in building a strong program for early childhood students in the Dubuque area.
In 2015, the Campaign also supported the increase of quality-rated preschools and child care centers in the community.
Moving forward, the Campaign will focus on addressing access and affordability issues when it comes to quality child care. Partners will look at data and best practice models to identify how to create a child care system in Dubuque that works for everyone.
In an effort to make sure students are reading at grade level by third grade, our overall goal is to ensure students are ready for school and ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.
Partnerships with Kid Project Community Child Care, Operation: New View-Head Start, Child Care Resource and Referral and Dubuque County Early Childhood have helped to increase communication with parents to educate and spread awareness of the importance of focusing on school readiness. Programs such as Vroom and Little Free Libraries have been put in place, and a partnership with Medical Associates has provided books to children under the age of five at well-child exams.
In 2017, Dyersville received a Pacesetter Award for the work that is being done in the area of school readiness, recognizing the impact these efforts are making. Future initiatives will continue to ensure that every child has the resources to succeed regardless of his or her socio-economic status.
The initial goals outlined in the Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP) for school readiness centered on improving access to books.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library sends free books to an enrolled child’s home each month from birth to age five. Enrollment in the program in 2015 was 565 children, with a goal of reaching 684 by 2017. As of December 2017, enrollment was at 673 children, an increase of over 100 children since the Campaign began.
Another goal was to increase the number of Little Free Libraries throughout the county. In 2015, the first Little Free Library was installed at Little Bear Park in Maquoketa and since then another 12 have been installed.
A sub-committee is currently meeting to investigate new goals for school readiness.