Letter to the Editor

A community's role

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thank you to M.D. Kittle and the Southeast Missourian for the recent coverage on the importance of quality early care and education. A recent editorial emphasized the responsibility parents and caregivers have in preparing young children for school success. Noted were two organizations -- the Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement -- that have programs supporting young children in our schools. Thank you to both organizations. The United Way has a couple of initiatives as well.

The Success by 6 Initiative promotes the importance of kindergarten readiness and the everyday things parents and caregivers can do to help ensure their child's success in school. (Call 334-9634 for a calendar of events.)

Read to Succeed is a reading intervention program helping kindergartners and first-graders progress in their reading skills at levels necessary to advance in school.

Many proven early childhood programs have experienced deep cuts to their budgets. I ask for the community to consider the following question: "What is our role in all of this?" We cannot rely on the government alone to fund our early childhood programs.

For about $36,000 per year we can help to restore the Parents as Teachers programs in our area school districts. For another $80,000 we can partner with our school districts to furnish and staff a preschool classroom. For an investment of 30 minutes of our time each week, we can help a kindergartner get a good start to education by learning to read.

Let's not leave it all up to our government, but find ways we can help.

NANCY JERNIGAN, executive director, United Way of Southeast Missouri, Cape Girardeau