Through visits and local meetings, first steps taken to create early childhood education ecosystem in Daviess County – Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Through visits and local meetings, first steps taken to create early childhood education ecosystem in Daviess County

A common phrase is that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  It is a phrase that is often repeated in the early childhood education community as parents and educators grapple with the blank slate of possibilities that young children represent for themselves, their families, and their community. Our youngest children are all too eager to take their first steps on to life’s great stage.

But how often are children prepared for those crucial first steps? An unfortunate reality is many children are at a disadvantage academically early on because they are unable to participate in the high-quality early learning programs that put their peers in a position to be high performers throughout their K-12 and college careers.

That is why the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro, and other local leaders have taken the first steps to ensure a big, bold future for the children of Kentucky through the development of an early childhood ecosystem.

We are building a template for early childhood success in Daviess County that will be a shining example of what local communities across Kentucky and the nation can achieve when local innovation and civic pride unites in the best interest of children. Our goal is to ensure that all children receive access to high quality, voluntary early childhood education. By convening local leaders, parents, educators, and advocates, we can ensure that all parents in Daviess County  and beyond have such an option for their young children. Together we can ensure that all children receive the strong start that they deserve, and that parents in the local workforce have access to safe, affordable care for their children throughout the work day.

The first steps in our mission to bring universal, voluntary early childhood education to the community commenced last week, along the Owensboro River Walk, in cafes, coffee houses, and city hall.  Our “journey of a thousand miles” began with the eager questions, smiling faces, and the friendly hospitality of Daviess County educators, government leaders, and others eager to share what makes Owensboro great. We found a strong community teeming with life, pride, and a strong heritage that insists on doing things bigger and better than what has been done before.

Our first stop was at The Creme Coffee House where we shared a cup of coffee with a team of early childhood educators. These educators shared that despite their best efforts, there are still parents who are unable to provide a high quality learning experience for their little ones. They shared the heartbreak that comes with having to turn parents away, or the pain that comes with adding yet another child to a never-ending waitlist filled with families who want the best for their kids.

In The Prichard Committee’s initial meetings throughout Daviess County we encountered nothing but enthusiastic support for bringing a system of universal, voluntary early childhood education to fruition for all in the community.

Superintendent Matt Robbins, Daviess County Schools, Brigitte Blom Ramsey, President & CEO of the Prichard Committee, Benjamin Gies, Director of Early Childhood Policy and Practice for the Prichard Committee, Bruce Hager, Chair of the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro.

Sherry Baber, Preschool Director, Owensboro Public Schools, with Blom Ramsey and Gies.

Rep. Suzanne Miles, with Blom Ramsey and Gies.

Rep. Jim Gooch, with Blom Ramsey and Gies.

Daviess County leaders understand that building a community with universal access to early childhood education not only provides our next generation with the tools they need to succeed, but supports the local workforce too – 14 percent of all Kentucky parents have quit a job, turned down a job, or cut back on hours due to child care needs. Universal early childhood education both prepares the future workforce of Daviess County and supports the current workforce by giving parents the support they need to work. We are prepared to take these steps to ensure that Daviess County and other Kentucky communities remain economically strong now and into the future.

While The Prichard Committee and Public Life Foundation have only just taken this “first step in the journey of a thousand miles,” we are energized by the can-do community spirit of Owensboro and the civic leaders of Daviess County. Over the next month, the Prichard Committee will form a coordinating committee of local leaders to guide us in this journey. We have many to thank already for their enthusiastic support, but rest assured that we will need many more in these miles yet journeyed.

Join us as we make early childhood education as harmonious as a show at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum and as appealing as a night out at Moonlight or Old Hickory.  Let’s put Owensboro on the map … AGAIN!

For more information please contact Benjamin Gies, Director of Early Childhood Policy and Practice at The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence at ben@prichardcommittee.org.

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