Our children deserve every opportunity to succeed. Unified by this belief, early childhood funders across Western New York have joined forces to form Liftoff. We’re working with existing community organizations and networks to ensure that, by the time children reach kindergarten, they are prepared physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively to reach their fullest potential.
Understanding the opportunity.
Are our children ready to learn and grow when they start school? At Liftoff, we needed an answer. Working with Public Sector Consultants, we examined the state of Western New York’s early childhood system.
To gain a deeper understanding of our children’s early years, we connected with over 300 Western New York residents, including early childhood experts, providers, government officials, nonprofit executives and staff, members of the philanthropic community and parents. Join us for the release of our findings at one of our Liftoff Report events, held in both Erie County and Chautauqua County.
Using interviews, focus groups and an electronic survey, we asked Western New York residents to better define their communities' early childhood goals and to identify what is working well, what could be working better and where there are opportunities to improve.
According to our findings, there are three major factors impacting early childhood development:
There is a lack of awareness and understanding of the impact of a child's environment on their development. Growing up in a low-income household puts children at a heightened risk of being unprepared for kindergarten. And of the over 100,000 children in Western New York, approximately half live in low-income households.
High-quality, affordable early education opportunities and experiences—such as childcare and pre-kindergarten—are not readily available. This deprives many children of activities that help them develop socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively.
There is a lack of access to health care, childcare and pre-kindergarten programs.
On July 16, we will share our report with the public. The report will be used to support the convening of early childhood collaborative bodies and to identify short- and long-term community strategies. Working together with partners across the region, Liftoff will address the high-level opportunities identified in the report:
- Increase parental and caregiver knowledge of early childhood screenings that measure whether the child is on track, such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time and waving.
- Engage the business community in support of all report areas on a regional collective effort.
- Develop a community-wide strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap in efforts to meet early childhood goals.
- Work with elected officials to further their support of awareness, availability and access.
- Increase the number of WNY leaders who are active in supporting changes related to kindergarten readiness, quality, costs and accessibility to early childhood education and development.
In addition, we have identified five high-priority action items for Western New York's early childhood system:
- Implement developmental screenings for all children that identify age-appropriate behavior.
- Support a kindergarten screening process, then design the educational environment to facilitate learning and growth.
- Increase availability and awareness of high-quality child care.
- Increase affordability of high-quality child care.
- Increase accessibility to healthcare and child care locations by addressing transportation challenges.
Nothing is more important than our children.
Our children are the future. And with research showing that a child's first years have lifelong consequences, it's a future we have to protect.
Please join us on July 16 at Rich Products Corporation (10:00 a.m.) or Chautauqua Lake Central School District (1:00 p.m.) for the release of our findings—and be part of the solution.
- Cattaraugus Region
- Community Foundation
for Greater Buffalo (CFGB)
- Chautauqua Region
- The Children's Guild Foundation
- Erie County
- Health Foundation for
Western and Central New York
- Greater Rochester
- Grigg-Lewis Foundation
- James H. Cummings Foundation
- John R. Oishei Foundation
- March of Dimes
- Niagara Area Foundations
- Northern Chautauqua
- The Peter and Elizabeth
C. Tower Foundation
- Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
- R.C. Sheldon Foundation
- Rochester Area Community
- United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
- United Way of Cattaraugus
- United Way of Greater Rochester
- United Way of Northern
Chautauqua County, Inc.
- United Way of Southern
- Western New York Foundation
- WNY Women's Foundation
- Wyoming Foundation
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