Early childhood education is where education begins for our children. It is important that as a community we ensure all of our children have access to quality early childhood education. In March 2014, Ngage held a community convening on education where the SUCCESS Partnership was launched. At that convening, early childhood education surfaced as a major topic – one that is especially critical to our community. Since then-in the past year-over 30 leaders from early childhood education have come together in three separate convenings. This group is committed, as a part of the SUCCESS Partnership, to develop a comprehensive county-wide early childhood education plan.
As this group has worked on a plan, six strategies have surfaced as essential for ensuring that every child in Doña Ana County is ready for kindergarten. These strategies are as follows:
a. INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS. Increase Public awareness and knowledge on the importance of early development and early childhood education.
b. FULLY INTEGRATE LEARNING SYSTEMS. Create and sustain an early learning system that focuses on building high-quality, comprehensive community programs that form a continuum of services for children and families living in Doña Ana County.
c. ACCESS TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. Provide equitable, affordable and attainable access to every child and family in Doña Ana County.
d. ECE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. Support and sustain a workforce of quality early childhood educators and professionals
e. PARENT & FAMILY ENGAGEMENT. Increase parent and family engagement in their child’s development and education.
f. ACCOUNTABILITY. Develop evaluation, accountability and outcome systems and measures.
As the early childhood group was developing, there was consensus that parent and family engagement was of critical and immediate importance throughout the county. As a backbone organization for the SUCCESS Partnership, Ngage New Mexico worked with eight partners from throughout the early childhood education community to obtain nearly $300,000 in funding from two foundations to sponsor a program called Parents Engaged for Readiness in Kindergarten (PERK). The program, carried out by the eight partners, is focused on developing parenting skills to facilitate early literacy and numeracy in children before they reach school. PERK is currently on track reach 200 families by September.