Smart Beginnings reports on 2012 achievementsPublished 12:45pm Saturday, May 25, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
FRANKLIN—They were there for the kids.
That’s what Ellen Couch said Tuesday about the largest attendance, in her memory, for a breakfast meeting of Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater. The event took place in the Regional Workforce Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin.
SBWT’s mission, according to its 2012 progress report, is “to ensure that all children in the City of Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County enter school healthy and ready to learn.”
To do this, the agency works with over 40 people representing 35 other agencies, such as The Children’s Center, throughout Western Tidewater.
Couch pointed out some successes of the past year:
* An increase in Pals K scores for all three areas; they’re all at or above the 80 percent level. These tests are done at the beginning of kindergarten each school year;
* An increase in school readiness of children entering school’
* Expanded literacy programs at the libraries and Children’s Centers, which are in Franklin, Smithfield and Suffolk; and
* An increase in insured children in Medicaid.
“Pay now or pay later. I’d rather pay now,” Couch said, adding that for every $1 invested in early child care or education, it saves localities $7 as return on the investment.
“Pay $1,000 now for nutritional support during pregnancy from WIC, or pay $10,000 later for low birth-weight babies because of higher medical bills.
“Pay $10,000 now for children to be prepared for school by kindergarten, or pay $250,000 later for high school dropout’s lower income earnings and needing public assistance programs.”
The Head Start program, said Rosalind Cutchins, supports physical development, cognition and general knowledge, language and literacy and social and emotional development.
Cutchins, who’s the interim director of The Children’s Center, said Head Start supports “a holistic approach, working with kids, family and the community. Head Start builds positive parent-child relationships, lifelong learning and education, making them ready for school and ready for life.”
During the program, six students from the Franklin Head Start introduced themselves to the audience. They were Sadiyah Warren, Milani Faltz, Erin Drayton, Derrik Stephens, Azariah Woodson and Nikiya Claude. With the help of their instructors, Sharon Britt-Eley and Velma Falkins, the children were sent to search for tokens on tables that matched the letters they wore on their chests.
Dr. Nancy Welch, interim director of the Western Tidewater Health Department, spoke on the benefits of the Nurse-Family Partnerships. This focuses on first-time mothers, aiming to support them through regular home visitations, nurses’ assessments and case management. Nurses are chosen because they have a high level of trust.”
“It’s not an enabling program, but an empowering one,” said Welch.
To learn more about Smart Beginning, call 562-8594 or visit www.smartbeginningswt.org.