“By 2023, every child in Del Norte and Tribal Lands will be able to read at grade level by the third grade.”
With the help of Building Healthy Communities, a coalition of families, educators, early childcare providers, local business owners and agencies are committed to ensuring that our children have the skills they need to be ready for kindergarten, read well by third grade and succeed in life.
According to recent data, 66 percent of children entering kindergarten in Del Norte don’t have the skills they need to succeed, and by third grade, 50 percent can not read at grade level.
What can we as a community do to reverse this trend and make literacy a priority?
It takes investments in early interventions such as providing access to quality pre-school and childcare and a community-wide understanding of kindergarten readiness. Every $1 invested in early childhood education yields a $7 return. With this investment children are less likely to drop out or repeat grades, there are more college and career-ready students, more students are likely to avoid alcohol and drugs, and they have a lower chance of going to prison or becoming a teen parent.
Putting children on the path to success!
What does it mean to be ready for kindergarten?
When we asked teachers, most agree on the basics: Children need to know their colors and ABCs, how to write their names, how to share, and how to sit still and follow directions. However, when we talked with families it became clear that many were unaware of this information and the supports available to help them meet teachers’ expectations.
When we started the Kindergarten Readiness initiative, more than 50 percent of incoming kindergarteners in Del Norte county were not
ready. In recent years, the number of prepared kindergarteners has steadily increased because of the collaboration and awareness across the community.
The Kindergarten Readiness project is part of the community-wide “3READ23” initiative to guarantee that all third graders are reading at grade level by 2023. The 3READ23 initiative was developed by educators, business and community leaders, parents and nonprofits who came together as the School Systems Implementation Team and the Literacy Core Design Team. All partners realize that the path to literacy and a happy, successful future for our children begins long before kindergarten.
In 2018, more than 800 school-readiness backpacks were distributed at local preschools, public agencies and via the Del Norte Unified School District’s Seamless Summer Meals program at schools from Smith River to Klamath. The backpacks were also available at the Wild Rivers Community Foundation office. The backpacks contained basic school supplies and information for parents to help prepare and connect them to resources to be Kindergarten Ready.