Cora’s Kids addresses a dire community need
United Way of Western Connecticut launched Cora’s Kids in 2018, investing $1 million over the next 3-5 years to support new family childcare centers in Danbury, with hopes to expand the program regionally.
We support the recruitment and licensing of new family childcare businesses and supporting current providers who are facing closure due to low enrollment because families can’t afford childcare. Our goal is to create hundreds of new childcare slots, dozens of new businesses, and allow families to continue to work and live in financially stable homes across Danbury.
Social interaction, pre-literacy skills and vocabulary development occur in the earliest years of a child’s life, an all-too-brief window for opportunity to establish and improve these skills. With the right programs and interventions, we can eliminate the achievement gap and learning disparities between high- and low-income families. Childcare is one of the largest expenses for families with preschool-aged children, accounting for more than 25% of a household budget on average, and why some parents might turn to unregulated or unlicensed childcare providers. The City of Danbury does not have an adequate number of childcare providers, and affordability for hard-working, struggling households keeps existing providers from being a viable solution for those families. Without regulation and oversight, well-meaning unlicensed daycare centers can become overpopulated and subsequently become dangerous environments for children.
Childcare providers play a critical role in the school-readiness of infants and toddlers:
- Low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills needed for school success as early as 18 months of age, according to The Campaign for Grade Level Reading.
- Children in low-income homes hear fewer words each day, and by age two, are already behind their more affluent peers in listening, counting, and other essential skills.
(Fernald, A., Marchman, V.A. & Weisleder, A. (2012). SES Differences in Language Processing Skill and Vocabulary are Evident at 18 months. DevelopmentalScience, 1-13. doi: 10.111)
- In addition, we know that when a child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82% chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45% chance for children who are not school-ready.
- By increasing the quality of available childcare to include more developmentally appropriate enrichment and educational activities, we are increasing the number of children who will begin school ready for academic success.
- From the time of infancy to entering kindergarten at age five, every dollar invested in children’s quality early childhood education saves society $7 - $9.
(Center on the Developing Child (2009). Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development (Brief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu)
Cora’s Kids builds on existing, committed, community investments
Cora’s Kids supports the goals of the DanburyWORKS collaborative, which was awarded a $450,000 grant from the Boston Federal Reserve’s Working Cities Challenge, as well as the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Champion Cities Challenge. Through Cora’s Kids, UWWC funding will complement the programs resulting from these funding opportunities.
The Boston Federal Reserve Bank’s 2018 Working Cities Challenge, $450,000
A collaborative of Danbury agencies and institutions has received this multi-year grant award to reduce the number of immigrants and people of color who are in poverty by 30 percent within 10 years. During the first three years, the initiative dubbed DanburyWORKS will address the barriers that prohibit or limit the identified population’s ability to participate in education and/or job training programs that increase wages. In the short-term, DanburyWORKS will focus on reducing those barriers by building trust among the diverse cultures in Danbury, improving proficiency of the English language, and increasing access to affordable childcare.
Participating agencies in DanburyWORKS include: Age Well Community Council, City of Danbury, Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut, Danbury Promise for Children Partnership, Danbury Public Schools, Danbury Youth Services, Connecticut Institute for Communities, Ecuadorian Civic Center of Greater Danbury, Ed Advance, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Regional YMCA, United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC), Western CT State University, Western CT Regional Adult and Continuing Education, and Western CT Health Network, as well as local Danbury residents and business owners. UWWC also serves as the fiscal agent for the initiative.
Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, $100,000
The City of Danbury, in partnership with UWWC, has been named one of 35 finalists in the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. Danbury’s application rose to the top for our innovative approach to finding a solution to the lack of affordable childcare options for low-income families.
Currently Danbury is in the Champion City Phase, competing with 34 other cities to conduct public prototypes of their proposed programs with grant funding of $100,000. Following the test program, the City will submit a new application in August 2018 to compete for the grand prize to bring our ideas to fruition. Four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million.