Kids First Foundation – Early Childhood Education

What Is Kids First Foundation? Kids First Foundation (“Kids First”) is a non-profit organization established by citizens of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula of Virginia who are concerned that many of our at-risk three-year old children do not have the same opportunity to benefit from Early Childhood learning and nutrition programs that are afforded children in larger, more affluent metropolitan areas. Kids First is targeting expansion of high quality early preschool opportunities for 3 year olds throughout Lancaster, Middlesex, Mathews and Northumberland Counties. As its initial project, Kids First is seeking the funds to offer a second Early Childhood classroom in 2014 at Lancaster Primary School (LPS) for at-risk children. This second classroom will follow the highly-successful model Early Childhood classroom initiated by the Wiley Educational Foundation 2 years ago, and expand that Early Childhood program to another 12-15 at-risk children.

Kids learning Shapes

Why Are Early Childhood Programs So Important? Early Childhood programs are critical in preparing at-risk children for success in kindergarten and beyond. These programs have shown remarkable success in advancing the learning skills of these children to the level of other more fortunate children by the time they enter the public schools. Studies by the National Institute for Early Education Research have validated the importance of Early Childhood learning programs and have shown that they lead to: 1) lasting improvements in academic performance, cognitive ability, and social skills; 2) reductions in drug abuse, drop-out rates, and teen and single parenthood; and 3) long-term increases in employability and financial well-being. In fact, studies show that early childhood education may be the single best way to break the cycle of generational poverty.

Within our community, a model Early Childhood classroom was initiated in 2012 at LPS with a grant from the Wiley Educational Foundation. That initiative has been remarkably successful in improving at-risk children’s school readiness. Specifically, children enrolled in the Early Childhood classroom program have shown dramatic improvement in their Brigance for Three-Year Olds test scores after completing the program. For example, test results for both the 2012-2013 and 2013–2014 Early Childhood classes consistently showed that over half of all children increased their test scores by more than 200%. The Brigance test is a well-known, effective tool used in assessing a child’s language development, literacy, math and science, physical health, and overall cognitive development. This remarkable improvement in test scores demonstrates the value of the model Early Childhood classroom children in preparing children for kindergarten.

Kids Working Puzzles    Kids Writing

What Does the Kids First Initiative Include? The Kids First funded Early Childhood second classroom program begins in September 2014 at Lancaster Primary School (LPS) and will follow the “model” Early Childhood program funded by the Wiley Educational Foundation. The Kids First initiative will expand that highly-successful model. This second Early Childhood classroom will offer Early Childhood learning opportunities to 12-15 at-risk children. Kids First will provide $225,000 over a 3-year period as the second Early Childhood classroom is phased into the LCPS and can be sustained by public funding. Kids First will cover 100% of program cost for the first year ($100,000), $75,000 for the second year (which is 85% of the instructional cost), and $50,000 the third year (or 55%) of the third year cost while the program transitions in three steps to full public funding in year four.

In the first year of the program, Kids First’s $100,000 includes $15,000 for the purchase of classroom set-up materials, furnishings, and equipment. The remaining $85,000 will cover the cost of instructional services, including a full-time, dedicated Early Childhood Education certified teacher and Instructional assistant. In the second year of operations, Kids First will provide $75,000 to continue the instructional services of the teacher and Instructional assistant with LCPS assuming a portion of the instructional services. Funding for the third year will be $50,000.00 with LCPS assuming a larger portion of the cost of the program. Beginning in the forth year, all funding for the second Early Childhood classroom will be provided by LCPS.

Where Will the Second Early Childhood Classroom Be Located? Lancaster County Public Schools has approved the use of the old music room at the Primary School for the second Early Childhood classroom. The proposed space is more than adequate as an Early Childhood classroom, and LPS Principal, Mr. Palin, will prepare the room for a second Early Childhood classroom prior to the beginning of the September 2014 school year. Also, LCPS will initiate the purchase of the required Early Childhood classroom set-up materials, furnishing, and equipment well in advance of the September start date.

Who Is Eligible to Enroll in the Early Childhood Program? Generally, children of parents who live in Lancaster County are eligible to make application for the Early Childhood program. Children will be selected for the program by the Early Childhood Program Director, Mrs. Cynthia Bishop, based on assessments of their at-risk status, their need for Early Childhood learning, and based on interviews with the parent(s) of applicants.

How Is the Early Childhood Program Managed and By Whom? Although the second Early Childhood program is being funded by Kids First, LCPS is the responsible authority for program execution and management oversight. The LPS Principal, Mr. Palin, and Early Childhood Program Director, Mrs. Bishop, are charged with the day-to-day management and execution responsibility for the program. In addition, the regular LCPS services, including transportation services, food services, and health/nurse services will be funded by LCPS support staff personnel.

Who Is Kids First Foundation? Kids First is a non-profit organization (IRS 501(c)(3) status). The foundation is managed by its President, Mr. Thomas Kinney, and its Board of Directors, that includes outstanding leaders and citizens representing the diversity of backgrounds and skills within our four-county community.

What Is the Status of Fund Raising? Kids First began fundraising activities July 9, 2014, upon approval of the second Early Childhood class by a Lancaster County School Board vote of 5-0. By July 1, 2014, Kids First has secured approximately $115,000, or 51% of the total funds needed to complete the funding for our program. Hence, we have sufficient funds to initiate the first year of the Early Childhood Program beginning in September 2014. Kids First will continue its fund raising by working with other foundations, businesses, and organizations to acquire the remaining $110,000 of the $225,000 seed money needed to sustain the Kids First initiative until funding becomes part of future regular LCPS annual budgets. We expect that raising these funds will be very challenging during this post-recession time-frame.

How Can We Help Kids First’s Early Childhood Program? Foundations, businesses, churches, and other organizations and individuals who would like to support the much-needed Early Childhood learning program for at-risk children are asked to

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Kids First Foundation
P.O. Box 1266
White Stone, Virginia 22578