FRANKFORT — Governor Steve Beshear today announced nearly $600,000 in funding for 21 Community Early Childhood Councils (CECC) across Kentucky to promote school readiness for children. Included among the 21 is the Bell and Harlan Council which was awarded a grant of $35,800
The announcement is part of the governor’s continuing commitment to improving education and health services for Kentucky’s youngest citizens.
“Too many children enter school with preventable health problems, undeveloped minds and no sense of curiosity or engagement in life around them. They start out already behind.” said Gov. Beshear. “These grants will help communities put our youngest students on the path to a life of promise and meaning.”
The purpose of the CECCs is to bring a broad based group of local people together to assess the unique needs of each early childhood community and build upon current strengths as communities explore creative ways to meet those needs. Councils were challenged to create distinctive ways of improving the early childhood community.
Approved by the Early Childhood Advisory Council and administered through the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, the individual grants range from $8,000 to $68,900, for a total of $596,530 in awards. Funds will focus on improving early care and education through education settings through professional development and promoting and supporting participation in the STARS for KIDS NOW quality rating system.
The 21 councils across the state that received the funding include community representatives from local school districts, public health departments, childcare providers, Head Start and local libraries.
Money will also be used for outreach to families to introduce them to Kentucky’s kindergarten readiness definition and how they may help prepare their children for school. Activities may include literacy fairs, community screener days and camp kindergarten.
Terry Tolan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, said the councils rally communities to support young children and their families.
“Local Community Early Childhood Councils are an integral part of our work to improve kindergarten readiness in Kentucky,” Tolan said. “Councils review local needs and mobilize their communities to focus on giving children the best possible start in school and in life.”
An additional $603,468 in grants may be awarded to another 48 CECC at a later time, Tolan said.
The Office of Early Childhood works with the local councils to provide support and outreach. The Early Childhood Advisory Council was created last year by Gov. Beshear to unite stakeholders behind common strategies, standards and goals for Kentucky’s early childhood system.
A part of that initiative is the CECC, which address the unique needs and strengths of local communities related to early childhood. The councils are a vehicle for bringing together community members to support issues of importance to children and families.
The following is a list of local councils that received grants totaling $596,530:
Tri County (Laurel, Whitley, Knox) $68,920
Allen, Logan , Simpson $42,040
Hart, Metcalfe, Monroe $27,670
Bell and Harlan $35,800