Early Childhood Education

Creating a future in which all children in our community enter kindergarten healthy, happy and ready to succeed in school and life.

We know the path to poverty starts at an early age, when low-income children do not have access to the same opportunities as their more advantaged peers. Now, more than ever, research has shown the earliest years of life can set the stage for lifelong physical and mental health and academic success. Children thrive when they are cared for by responsive and sensitive adults; participate in regular, stimulating early learning experiences; and enjoy healthy food and active play.

United Way works to ensure that Austin’s youngest community members start out life on an even playing field. For more than a decade, UWATX has been the leader and backbone of the Success By 6 initiative, bringing together a coalition of school, city, and county officials as well as nonprofits and parents to improve a network of support systems for children. We work with education organizations and community stakeholders to create opportunities for low-income infants, toddlers, and young children to receive high-quality education before they even enter kindergarten. We also provide opportunities for their parents to receive the skills they need to better prepare their children for success in school and beyond.

    • School Readiness Action Plan – Creating a vision and goals for an early learning community that is second to none in the U.S.
    • Bright by Text – As part of the statewide Start Smart Texas campaign, United Way and KLRU, in partnership with TEA, United Ways of Texas, and Texas PBS, are bringing this text message resource to parents and caregivers in Austin.
    • Center Project – Providing children from low-income families with high-quality childcare
    • Early Language Coaching – Creating language-rich environments in partner childcare centers
    • GO! Austin / ¡VAMOS! Austin – Improving nutrition and health for children in childcare centers
    • Texas Family Connects – Travis County – is a voluntary, short-term nurse home visiting program offered to every family with newborn infants in Travis County to maximize impact and community involvement.
    • Project HOPES – Reaching parents in need with the right services
    • Baby Boxes – United Way, in partnership with The Baby Box Co., is a distributor for Baby Boxes in Austin. Baby Boxes offer a simple, beautiful and safe sleeping space for babies, as well as premium baby products to support new parents during this important time.
    • Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood, Home Visiting  (MIECHV) – United Way for Greater Austin is the lead on the Travis County Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant from the State of Texas by and through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

School Readiness Action Plan

In 2012, Success By 6 released the first School Readiness Action Plan (SRAP). A strong coalition of early childhood advocates, experts, parents, service providers, and business leaders worked to transform the early childhood system in Travis County through a strategic plan. Built through two decades of advocacy work by local early childhood champions, the plan was informed by the science of early childhood development and by the emergence of strong programs with demonstrated long-term and meaningful impact on children and families. United Way’s Success By 6 led this coalition as it worked to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the first plan and released the second SRAP in 2015 that sustains the progress made while accelerating the work.

Bright by Text

To sign up for Bright by Text, text SMARTATX to 274448 (BRIGHT on the keypad), or sign up here for tips, resources and information about local events.

Ninety percent of brain development occurs by age five, and your relationship with your baby matters! Back and forth interactions with caring adults form connections in the child’s brain that promote healthy development, including social and emotional skills. Experiences early in life can have a lasting impact on later learning, behavior and health that can help set children up for success in school and life (Harvard Center on the Developing Child).

We know parenting can be challenging. Bright By Text Can help! As part of the statewide Start Smart Texas campaign, United Way and KLRU, in partnership with TEA, United Ways of Texas, and Texas PBS, are bringing Bright by Text to Austin.

Bright by Text is a free parent and caregiver texting service that sends tips and resources promoting child development, targeted to a child’s age from 0-8 years. It is designed to be relevant to today’s families, providing quality information and trusted resources to any caregiver. The age-specific messages are comprised of research-based content from Bright by Three, Vroom, PBS Kids, PBS Parents, Fred Rogers, and Sesame Workshop, as well as localized content targeted to the zip code of the family.

Topics include:

  • child development
  • health and safety
  • newborn, infant, and toddler care
  • language and early literacy
  • nutrition and eating
  • behavior and positive discipline
  • developmental games and milestones

Examples of local texts:

  • library story times
  • free movies in the park
  • PreK enrollment information
  • classes and resources for families

To sign up, text SMARTATX to 274448 (BRIGHT on the keypad), or sign up here.

 

Center Project

Success By 6 launched the Center Project during the fall of 2013 in order to maximize the impact of UWATX’s investments in early childhood development. The Center Project is designed to provide children from low-income families with engaging, language-rich, high-quality environments while providing a variety of services to children, families, teachers, directors, and the early care and education center as a whole.

Success By 6 currently works with 18 early care and education centers serving more than 1,200 children. These centers are dedicated to serving low-income families while providing high-quality care. All our centers are at the forefront of innovation serving as leaders in the early childcare sector. Through the project, Success By 6 manages a system of evidence-based interventions, supports, and resources made available to network centers, while also working with all early childhood system stakeholders to increase access to high-quality programs.

The range of Success By 6 supports available to these centers include:

  • Community Investment Grants to increase the number of high-quality childcare spots for low-income children
  • Austin Child Guidance Center social-emotional learning and mental health consultation
  • Second Step social-emotional learning curriculum training
  • YWCA counseling support for staff and families at our centers
  • Early language coaching
  • Hands On Central Texas volunteers
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Partnership coordination

 

Early Language Coaching

Oral language has a significant impact on a child’s kindergarten readiness and on their success throughout school overall. Children who are behind in receptive language skills are set on a path to start school behind and stay behind without additional early intervention.

Success By 6 deploys trained Early Language Coaches to deliver age-appropriate and engaging early math and literacy games and activities. Early Language Coaches are placed for approximately nine months in child care center classrooms serving children ages 3-5 in small group settings (3-4 children) or one-on-one.

 

Texas Family Connects – Travis County

Texas Family Connects – Travis County is a voluntary, short-term nurse home visiting program offered to every family with newborn infants in Travis County to maximize impact and community involvement. The program goals are to:

  1. Connect with mothers or primary caregivers in order to support parenting skills and self-efficacy
  2. Assess each family’s unique strengths and needs
  3. Connect the family with needed community services such as; health care, child care and financial and social support in order to promote family functioning and child well-being

UWATX is partnering with Austin Public Health to provide the clinical staff and expertise for Texas Family Connects. At full scale, all families in Travis County will be offered a home visit from a trained nurse as part of their discharge continuum of care plan following birth. During the visit, the nurse completes a thorough family assessment. Nurses are able to provide immediate maternal and family support in areas such as breastfeeding or safe sleep and are able to provide warm referrals to a comprehensive database of community resources.

Texas Family Connects – Travis County is launching this fall at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

To learn more about Texas Family Connects or to have your program listed in the community resource database, please contact Shalyn Bravens.

 

GO! Austin / ¡VAMOS! Austin

Go! Austin / Vamos! Austin (GAVA) is a coalition of residents, community leaders and nonprofits that share a common interest in improving the health of the 78744 and 78745 communities through increased access to and participation in physical activity and improved nutrition. As a GAVA supporter, Success By 6 is aligning our resources and expertise for greater positive impact, especially as it relates to the health of children.

 

Project HOPES

Project HOPES (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support) is a SAFE Alliance-led collaboration of local community organizations offering support services to help strengthen families with young children through parent education home visits as well as other services. Success By 6’s community outreach work on behalf of this coalition ensures eligible families are connected to the services they need.

 

Baby Boxes

United Way, in partnership with The Baby Box Co., is a distributor for Baby Boxes in Austin. Baby Boxes offer a simple, beautiful and safe sleeping space for babies, as well as premium baby products to support new parents during this important time. Each box comes with the following items:

  1. Foam mattress with waterproof cover
  2. Hygiene product samples (wipes, shampoo, baby soap, etc.)
  3. Coupons for household and baby items
  4. Diapers or onesies may also be available

Baby Boxes are free for families. To be eligible for a free Baby Box, parents are required to visit www.babyboxuniversity.com to watch a series of short videos aimed to support parents and inform them on the proper use of the Baby Box. Upon completion of the videos and accompanying quiz, parents will receive a confirmation number that they will need to provide at pick-up.

Current pick-up times are scheduled for Thursdays from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at United Way for Greater Austin (2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd. Austin, TX 78702). Please schedule your pick-up online or contact Shalyn Bravens with any questions.

 

Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)

United Way for Greater Austin is the lead on the Travis County Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant from the State of Texas by and through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). MIECHV funds voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs that serve the most vulnerable populations in Travis County.

 

The purpose of the Texas Home Visiting grant program is to support community-driven approaches to enhancing maternal and child health, parent-child attachment, child development, child safety, family stability and school readiness in eligible communities. The Travis County MIECHV award supports Success By 6, the School Readiness Action Plan community coalition and the Family Support Network. United Way also partners with Any Baby Can and Healthy Families Travis County to provide evidence-based direct home visiting services. Finally, Travis County is part of a state-wide effort to bring Family Connects, a universal home visiting model for all families with a newborn. United Way is partnering with Austin Public Health to launch Texas Family Connects – Travis County.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under MIECHV grant #24532533 awarded to United Way for Greater Austin. The total MIECHV grant is $1.1 Million which is matched by local dollars. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be

 

 
Ready to change lives?

Every day in Austin, we’re working to ensure each child has access to high-quality education, every family has the tools they need to be financially stable, and health and human services are readily available for all.

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