Prepared for Kindergarten

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In order to be kindergarten-ready, young children need quality early education, strong relationships with families, a safe and secure home environment and regular health and developmental screenings and support.

Today, we know without a doubt that quality early childhood education leads to more success in kindergarten and throughout life. For low-income children, early childhood education is one of the keys to upward mobility. It also leads to a stronger economy for all of us.

This work does not just involve preschools – success requires strong families, safe homes and timely screenings to ensure kids are meeting their developmental milestones.

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Prepared for Kindergarten: By the Numbers

PALS-K stands for Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening for Kindergarten. Fall PALS-K benchmarks help schools identify kindergarten students who are performing below developmentally appropriate levels on fundamental literacy skills and need additional instruction.

In 2016, 84.6% of our region’s kindergartners met Fall PALS-K benchmarks.

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Studies have shown that children without health insurance often receive less medical care and have worse health outcomes than children with insurance. If a young child is not receiving appropriate medical care and is not healthy, it is difficult—if not impossible—for that child to be prepared for kindergarten.

In our region, an estimated 4.2% of children (3,430 kids) do not have health insurance.

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Research has consistently shown that quality early childhood education has a major impact on a child’s overall development and increases their chances of success in the classroom and in life. While these benefits continue throughout a child’s education, they are particularly important during the transition to kindergarten.

From 2011-2015, an estimated 47.2% of children (ages 3-4) in our region were enrolled in an early childhood education program.

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As with any health concern, developmental delays or disabilities in young children can be more effectively treated the earlier they’re detected. Recent estimates are that 15% of children ages 3-17 in the United States have a developmental disability.

Research has found that high quality early intervention programs for vulnerable infants and toddlers can reduce the incidence of future problems in their learning, behavior and health status. That is why, in 1986, Congress enacted early intervention legislation as an amendment to the Education of Handicapped Children’s Act (1975), part C intervention services, to ensure that all children with disabilities from birth through the age of three would receive appropriate early intervention services.

In 2015, 1,154 children in our region received Part C intervention services.

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What We Do

United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg understands the importance of school readiness, as well as the holistic approach required to truly prepare our young children for kindergarten. That’s why we invest in programs that focus on family stability, early literacy, and social and emotional development.

  • We are a founding partner with Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, which coordinates organizations, businesses and citizens to ensure the region’s children enter school healthy, well-cared for and ready to succeed in school and in life.
  • We serve as the backbone of the Petersburg City and Schools Partnership, which works to create the climate and conditions for every child to succeed by providing a sustainable, coordinated system of supports and access.

How You Can Help

  • Donate. Give to United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Let us know you want your gift to help prepare young children for kindergarten.
  • Volunteer. United Way volunteers host literacy events and prepare school-readiness kits for students. Send us an email to get involved, or visit our Events page to see our existing opportunities.
  • Connect. Parents, pediatricians and childcare providers can call 2-1-1 for information about developmental screening and early intervention services in your area.