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 (SB6) 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.
  • Center Project – Providing children from low-income families with high-quality childcare
  • Early Language Coaching – Creating language-rich environments in partner childcare centers
  • Vroom – Empowering all parents to become their child’s first teacher
  • GO! Austin / ¡VAMOS! Austin – Improving nutrition and health for children in childcare centers
  • Play To Learn – Supporting informal caregivers to provide high-quality in-home environments
  • Project HOPES – Reaching parents in need with the right services
  • OLE! Texas – Preventing obesity through outdoor learning

 

School Readiness Action Plan

In 2012, SB6 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 SB6 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.

 

Center Project

SB6 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.

SB6 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 on the forefront of innovation serving as leaders in the early childcare sector. Through the project, SB6 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 SB6 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.

SB6 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.

 

Vroom

As the “anchor organization” in the Austin Community Activation launch of the Bezos Family Foundation’s Vroom initiative, SB6 manages a community-wide awareness campaign aimed at empowering and educating caregivers of children 0-5 across the city. Vroom is a free science-backed caregiver empowerment and education tool that meets caregivers where they are and helps them recognize that they already have what it takes to turn everyday moments into brain-building opportunities.

Learn more about Vroom here and download the Vroom app to use with your children today. Follow our Success By 6 Facebook page for Vroom updates.

 

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, SB6 is aligning our resources and expertise for greater positive impact, especially as it relates to the health of children.

 

Play To Learn

In a community with a growing poverty rate and escalating costs of high-quality childcare, many low-income children are left in family, friend, or neighbor’s care. To support these caregivers in preparing the children in their care for success in school and beyond, SB6 launched Play To Learn. Thanks in part to a significant investment from Samsung and a partnership with KLRU, Play To Learn is now a multi-partner, city-supported 10-week parent and child curriculum that prepares caregivers to support school readiness through interactive play that fosters brain development.

To join a Play To Learn cohort near you, contact Marilyn Manzo.  To become a Play To Learn implementation partner, contact Jessica Dominguez. Current Play To Learn implementation partners include:

  • KLRU
  • Camp Fire Central Texas
  • YMCA of Austin
  • People’s Community Clinic

 

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. SB6’s community outreach work on behalf of this coalition ensures eligible families are connected to the services they need.

 

OLE! Texas

OLE (Outdoor Learning Environments)! Texas is a pioneering statewide intervention for increasing childhood physical activity and food awareness by improving childcare centers’ outdoor environments. SB6 is leading a coalition of local stakeholders to implement this model in our community.

 
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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