Week of the Young Child


Early childhood: an unparalleled Investment

Higher Expectations for Racine County was thrilled excited to be part of the Week of The Young Child — an annual celebration honoring our community’s efforts in preparing our youngest children to be successful.

It was a wonderful opportunity for Racine’s families to learn more about early childhood resources and for the community to celebrate Racine’s families at Family Empowerment Day, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Case High School.

At this event, the Week of the Young Child area in the field house showcased community partners and have interactive learning activities for families with young children. At our booth, we had children draw self portraits, a skill that shows they are ready for kindergarten.

Research shows us that focusing on early childhood development is an unparalleled investment not only for our children but for our community as a whole. In the first few years of a child’s life, their brains are hard-wired for learning, making neural connections at a rate of one million per second. When those seconds are filled with social interaction, singing, playing, and learning, children’s brains build a healthy foundation, and they enter school ready to learn.

Higher Expectations is working to improve outcomes for Racine County, starting with our youngest residents. In 2018, Higher Expectations convened nonprofit, government, and education partners from across the community who support families with children from birth to age 3. That group is starting to understand how families navigate through community-level resources, identify which resources all families should have access to, and align those resources. This includes programs like:

  • Imagination Library, which will deliver a free, age-appropriate book every month to any child, birth to age 5 in Racine County. Sign up at unitedwayracine.org/IL.

  • Family Connects, a community-wide universal home visiting program for all parents of newborns in Racine County. Learn more at crchd.com/prenatal-parenting-programs.

  • Reach Out & Read, where pediatricians at Ascension All Saints discuss the importance of literacy and provide a book to all children receiving well-child visits

Our data shows that our efforts are starting to show results at the early childhood level. Since the 2014-2015 school year, the literacy scores for 4K students have increased by 4%. Although we are excited about this progress, there is still more we can do together as a community to support our youngest neighbors. If you are interested in being a part of making our community stronger, here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Read, play, sing, talk with your child or the children in your life.

  • Understand the importance of quality when choosing childcare. Learn more at dcf.wisconsin.gov/youngstar/parents.

To read the original article: click here

To read articles from our partners about the importance of early childhood initiatives see below:

Week of the Young Child: Future in Focus, Joanee Meyerhofer, Program Coordinator, United Way of Racine County

Play is learning for young children by Sarah Hawks, Extension Racine County

Visiting programs help families with babies by Margaret Gesner

Get Out and Play! by Amy Shepherd, RUSD Director of Early Learning and Joleen Carlson, RUSD 4K Coordinator

The importance of early childhood mental health by Gretchen Huletz, Community Services Manager, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Elizabeth Erickson