Back in April, Forsyth County community leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors, convened by Family Services, collaborated to launch the Pre-K Priority, whose mission is to advocate for high-quality early education for every four-year-old in Forsyth County.
On Saturday, August 24th, community members saw the official kickoff of the Pre-K Priority public awareness campaign during the Family Services Wake-Up Walk & 5K, with the first-ever Back-To-School Pre-K Parade around Bailey Park downtown.
“The Pre-K Priority is about informing the community, voters, taxpayers, policymakers, teachers and parents about the benefits of quality Pre-K,” said Family Services President and CEO Bob Feikema. “Our children’s education is everyone’s concern. High-quality Pre-K programs provide an enriching environment that stimulates brain development, promotes learning and fosters the social-emotional stability that is a prerequisite for success in school.”
The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Great Expectations grant to Family Services, in the amount of $847,250, is funding the public awareness and engagement campaign, as well as a feasibility study. Family Services convened the Pre-K Priority’s Steering Committee and has established five local workgroups associated with early education expertise. Local marketing agency, M Creative, will develop and implement the public awareness campaign while Forsyth Futures conducts the feasibility study.
“Research shows that every dollar spent on early childhood initiatives provides more than eight dollars in benefits back to society,” said Joe Crocker, director of the Local Impact in Forsyth County program at the Trust. “However, nearly half of the children entering kindergarten in Forsyth County are at risk of falling behind their peers in reading. The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust is committed to ensuring all of our community’s children have access to quality early childhood education that lays the foundation for success in kindergarten and beyond.
According to a previous benchmark research study among Forsyth County registered voters, 84% of voters support “giving our children a strong start through quality early education programs” with 54% indicating “we should be doing more.”
Studies of high-quality programs like the North Carolina Pre-K Program have found positive outcomes, including improved math and reading scores. The gains made by children enrolled in high-quality early education programs translate into improved outcomes as adults in terms of post-secondary educational attainment, increased income, homeownership, improved health status and less contact with the criminal justice system.
About the Pre-K Priority
The Pre-K Priority is an alliance of nearly 60 individuals representing early childhood education organizations, public agencies, philanthropic partners and parents convened by Family Services. This group has met since June 2014 and has diligently identified and thoroughly examined the essential elements and best practices associated with high-quality Pre-K programs and Pre-K system expansion.
Drawn together by the common vision of a community in which all children have the opportunity to attend a high-quality Pre-K program, the expertise and experience of the members of The Pre-K Priority have been concentrated in six workgroups and guided and reviewed by a 15-member steering committee to produce the findings and recommendations located at prekpriority.org.
About Family Services
For nearly 115 years, Family Services has provided high quality programs and services that help families resolve crises, protect victims of family violence and prepare preschoolers to be ready to succeed in school. We are reaching beyond the 10,000 families we serve each year to pursue two major goals that are essential for the well-being of our entire community: 1. Making quality early childhood development programs available to every child in Forsyth County, and 2. Ensuring that all children and families are free from the threat of family violence. To do this, we are building an unprecedented network of local organizations and action-minded leaders who share our commitment to community-wide change. These partnerships are generating innovative ways to help every child and family in Forsyth County reach their full potential.