If you’ve ever been confused about what state programs are available for young children, there is a new website for you to check out.
Kids.ri.gov breaks down available state programs by both children’s ages and categories, making it easier to find the programs right for you. Some of the programs are income based but others are not.
The website, made possible by a federal preschool development grant, focuses on providing resources on early childhood education and development from prenatal to Pre-K. It covers everything from immunizations to family visiting programs to dental health.
“We know that parents are really busy,” said Ashley O’Shea of the RI Department of Human Services. “We want parents to understand what is available and find it easy to use.”
O’Shea said the website was designed to include artwork provided by a “pre-k graduate” child.
“We want to make it a place where families feel included,” said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “This is laying the foundation for communicating with families. We want to make sure that families know they can and should access these programs. We can’t lead the way if parents don’t know about it.”
Kids.ri.gov also includes informational factsheets about early intervention, Head Start, and Brightstars, a program that rates early childhood education organizations to give parents more information when choosing early education and childcare.
“This is really an equity issue. Parents need the best possible information,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, an organization that collects data on children and helps to put actions in place based on that data.
Encouraging early reading
The website was announced during a press conference that also focused on encouraging parents to read to their children from birth as part of a state pledge to ensure that 75% of 3rd graders are reading at grade-level by 2025.
As part of the pledge, superintendents of various school districts are reading to children at early learning organizations around the state. This program was organized by the Way of Rhode Island, Rhode Island, Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC), and KIDS COUNT. Here is a list of those readings designated “Supers Read”:
- Superintendent Ken Duva: Jamestown Early Learning Center (87 North Road, Jamestown, RI), Tuesday, November 5 at 10 am.
- Superintendent Frances Gallo: Genesis Center (620 Potters Avenue, Providence 02907), Monday, November 4 at 10 am.
- Superintendent Judith Paolucci: Cadence Academy and Preschool (22 Cedar Swamp Road, Smithfield, RI), Monday, November 4 at 10 am.
- Superintendent Robert Mitchell: Four Corners Early Learning Center YMCA (160 Bear Hill Road, Cumberland, RI); Wednesday, November 6 at 10 am.
- Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green: Estefany Home Day Care (86 Wadsworth Street, Providence, RI), Friday, November 8 at 10 am.
Pre-K for all
At the press conference, Governor Gina M Raimondo also reiterated her pledge to make high quality pre-k available for every child in RI within the next four years. Early childhood education helps to make children ready for school and learning.
“The cost of early education can be a small fortune,” Raimondo said. “I hope every family will have access to safe, high-quality care. It’s worth every penny and is about the best thing we can do with our tax dollars. We want to invest in what matters and invest in what works.”