The goal of the Community Approach to 4 year old kindergarten is to achieve emotional, educational, societal, and medical well-being of all children. This approach blends funding of public and private resources to distribute learning programs and resources community-wide more efficiently, and offers many benefits to children, families, schools, and communities.
Click on the 4KCA benefit below to read excerpts from …. Bob Kann’s Report “54 Benefits…” and to see the results of our survey of community councils sharing the impact 4KCA has had in their community.
- Avoid one size fits all and develop programs that fit unique needs of communities.
- Improves overall quality of early childhood programs.
- Provides a level of service impossible for one agency to provide.
- Builds cohesive communities through business and community organizations partnering.
- Increases the amount of money available to spend in community.
- Increases the options for parents and employers.
- Develops more respect and appreciation for importance of early childhood education.
- Improves communication between community members supporting children and families.
- Builds strong and important links among school districts, 4K sites, and other community programs.
Everyone benefits when different programs meet to discuss what works best in their community. By collaborating, communities avoid one size fits all solutions and instead develop programs that fit the unique needs of their individual communities.
Dana Sommerfeld, Director State and Federal Programs, Chippewa Falls, Marcia Flaherty, Manitowoc School District, Bridget Cullen, Department of Children and Families, and Dave Linsmeier of Mary Linsmeier Schools in Brookfield, talk about the affects of 4KCA in their communities at all levels and for many stakeholders.
The flexibility for each community to develop a unique 4K Community Approach program has enabled participants to offer a diverse and varied palette of services for children and to provide creative solutions to community-wide problems and concerns. For example,
• In Chippewa Falls, the school district contracts with an external agency to provide bus service for children. Because of their interest in providing the highest quality experiences for four-year-olds, the bus company designated buses specifically for four-year-olds. When they transport four-year-olds, no younger or older children ride in the same bus. They purchased smaller buses so that it’s a safer and more comfortable ride for the children. They assigned dedicated drivers who receive training in child development, child management, and the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program. The drivers get to know the children personally, and this is a result of a commitment and belief on the part of the bus company that those kids “need great things.”
• In Manitowoc, the continued existence of the community’s Head Start program was in jeopardy around the time when planning for the introduction of the 4K Community Approach program was taking place. Head Start needed more space and nothing workable was seemingly available. The school district asked Head Start if they would like to participate in the 4K Community Approach collaboration and invited Head Start to move into the new wing of the Riverview Learning Center. According to Linda Gratz, the former director of Head Start in Manitowoc, this saved Head Start in Manitowoc. She said, “It was great how they worked with us to make sure we were benefiting, they were benefiting, and the children and families were benefitting…. The thing impressed me most was how open and honest and fair the school district was.”
• In Stevens Point, county nurses conduct hearing and visions screenings for all children in the 4K Community Approach programs. This service did not exist before the introduction of 4K Community Approach program. If families are unable to follow-up the screenings with physicians on their own, the 4K Community Approach program provides resources to help them make sure they’re now able to do it.
The overall quality of early childhood programs has improved in communities implementing the 4K Community Approach.
Jeff Bindl, 4K Coordinator, School District of Reedsburg, Debbie Wells, Early Childhood Principal in Waukesha, and Natasha Harris in Racine, share how 4KCA improves many forms of quality.
• Belinda Grantham, Director of Early Education, Kenosha Public Schools:
• Marcia C. Flaherty, Director of Elementary and Secondary Education, Manitowoc Public School District:
• Dana Sommerfeld, Director of State and Federal Programs, Chippewa Falls Unified School District:
The 4K Community Approach program provides a level of services which would be impossible for any one agency to provide in isolation.
Dana Sommerfeld, Director State and Federal Programs, Chippewa Falls, talks about how 4KCA pools resources.
One of the greatest benefits of the 4K Community Approach program is that it provides parents with the greatest variety of choices to meet their family’s needs in terms of the educational and child care needs for their children. Each community provides options based on the resources and assessed needs of their particular community. 4K Community Approach programs are offered in child care centers, Head Start programs, preschools, parochial school programs, university-based programs, and public schools. Within this palette of possibilities, different programs offer different services for children. One program in any community simply could not provide the diversity of educational and child care options that the “sum of the parts” provides. Hence, the 4K Community Approach enriches each community by providing parents with the greatest number of programs from which to choose the program that best meets the needs of their family.
Through the 4K Community Approach collaboration, businesses and other community organizations have partnered with programs serving young children to provide products and services to families. This helps to build more cohesive communities..
Heather Cramer, Early Learning Principal at Stevens Point Area School District, talks about partnering with community businesses using 4KCA.
Employers benefit from working parents having their children receive care and education in one location.
The 4K Community Approach program provides parents with the choice of where to send their children to attend four-year-old kindergarten. In terms of the work place, the 4K Community Approach program enables parents to remain at their jobs throughout the day without having to transport their children to separate care facilities because they can place their children in a program where they can have the wraparound care in the morning, afternoon, or even into the evening. This also means that parents are perhaps better employees because they can concentrate on the requirements of their jobs without having the distraction of having to attend to the care needs of their children. In addition, the 4K Community Approach program options enable parents who are attending school to have the same flexibility and certainty of care for their children as do working parents.
Many of the 4K Community Approach programs partner with community organizations to provide services to children and their families. A byproduct of the strong bonds that are forged through these collaborations is the development of a greater appreciation for the importance of early education and a willingness to support 4K Community programs in the community. Familiarity breeds understanding, respect, and appreciation for the 4K-Community programs and for early childhood education from the general public. And, the 4K Community Approach program nurtures a reciprocal appreciation and gratitude for the support of the 4K programs provided by the community.
Having care and education programs in one setting provides parents, educators, care providers, and community social service agencies the opportunity to communicate more easily with each other to support the needs of children and families.
Natasha Harris, Associate Principal at Racine Unified School District, talks about some of the benefits of using a 4KCA: