Parent-child home visits prepare young Madisonians for success in kindergarten
Personalized early learning home visits focused on language development and literacy are setting up Dane County’s youngest citizens for success when they start school.
The Center for Families’ Parent-Child Home program prepares children and their parents for 4-year-old kindergarten and beyond. Parents across the county can sign up their 2-year-olds for the free two-year program.
Educators, known as home visitors, work with children and their families twice a week for 30 minutes per session. Home visitors focus on helping kids develop language, literacy and social-emotional skills. They also coach parents on how to reinforce the skills throughout the week.
The emphasis on parental involvement is critical, said Liz Kober, the coordinator for the Parent-Child Home program. “We consider the parent or caregiver to be the child’s first and most important teacher.”
Parent-Child Home visits are available for families throughout Dane County, but it is also one focus of the county’s larger early childhood zone program that provides a variety of services to support families with young children in high-poverty areas. Dane County, the United Way, the city of Madison, area school districts and other local organizations are partners in the program.
Early childhood zones in Dane County include the Leopold Elementary School attendance area on Madison’s south side; Sun Prairie and Verona. With additional funding from the Rennebohm Foundation, Dane County will launch the next early childhood zone in the Blackhawk Middle School attendance area on Madison’s north side in 2017.
Low-income families who live in these areas have access to services like the Parent-Child Home program, as well as housing, employment and education assistance. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said supporting young children, as well as their families, provides a foundation for the child to thrive once they start school.
“It is an intergenerational approach. We don’t just focus on the child. That is just one component of the situation. We really want to help stabilize that family and help that child succeed from the beginning,” Parisi said.
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