Signs of a growing early learning system in south King County include better-trained parents, higher quality child care and full-day kindergarten for all.
Washington state lawmakers have until the 2017-2018 school year to pay for full day kindergarten statewide, but parents in south King County don’t have to wait that long.
The seven school districts served by the Road Map Project now provide full day kindergarten to all of their students – one of the highlights of an emerging early learning system noted in the nonprofit organization’s 2014 annual report.
But the availability of high-quality child care isn’t keeping pace with demand, which appears to be driven by an increase in the number of young children in south King County.
In 2014, only about a quarter of low-income children in the region attended a high-quality early learning program, according to the report by the nonprofit organization.
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The Road Map Project is a regional effort aimed at dramatically raising student achievement from cradle to college in the Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle (South Seattle schools only) and Tukwila school districts.
When the project was launched in 2010, only Kent, Seattle and Tukwila provided full-day kindergarten to all of their students. This school year, all seven districts do.
The report also notes that half of the region’s 950 licensed child care providers are participating in the state’s Early Achievers voluntary rating system (up from 11 percent in 2012), which includes coaching and other support.
The report also noted two national efforts aimed at helping parents in the Road Map region improve their own teaching skills.
One is the Reach Out and Read effort led by pediatricians and nurses to promote early literacy and school readiness during check-ups. It now operates in 33 medical clinics in the Road Map area.
The other, the Parent-Child Home Program, served 818 families in the Road Map region in 2014, up from 160 families in 2010.