A growing body of research has provided some alarming statistics. According to The Campaign for Grade Level Reading (gradelevelreading.net), more than 80% of children from low income families are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. By their third birthday, these children have been exposed to 30 million less words than their more privileged counterparts. By kindergarten, low income children are 12-14 months behind developmentally and, by third grade, they are more than two years behind in critical reading and language skills. These children are also 13 times more likely to drop out of school. Last year, Onondaga Citizens League released a report focused on early childhood and school readiness. The theme of the report was “Creating a Community Where All Children Thrive by Five.” One of its recommendations was creating an alliance of community leaders from government, education, healthcare, childcare and social service agencies, in order to deliver services more effectively and efficiently.
This led to the formation of Early Childhood Alliance Onondaga (ECA), whose leadership is charged with coordinating local resources to support families so that all children are successful in school. The Salvation Army is very excited to be part of this alliance. Understanding that success in school requires a multifaceted approach, Thrive for Five and ECA have adopted goals and strategies that were developed at the state level for the following areas:
Goal: All young children are healthy and thriving and have access to health care.
Goal: All young children will be successful in school and life.
Goal: All families of young children are supported in their parenting and have knowledge, skills, confidence and resources they need to raise their children in healthy and nurturing environments.
Cynthia O’Connor, Apter & O’Connor Associates, Inc., New Salvation Army Advisory Board MemberThrive for Five has its roots in our community’s long and storied history of innovation, leadership and development of high quality early childhood education and programming. Renewed focus and awareness at the national, state and county levels is cause for hope. The opportunity for unparalleled success in the battle to conquer the ill effects of poverty and provide children and their families with the supports and resources they need for children to be successful in school and beyond is clearly on the horizon for our community. Organizations such as The Salvation Army will play a crucial role in the implementation of these efforts.
While providing basic needs, such as food and shelter, will always been part of our mission, we understand that breaking the cycle of poverty and helping those we serve reach their full potential requires much more than a hot meal and a warm bed. The Salvation Army offers a continuum of services designed to support children and parents from low income neighborhoods. Working as part of a coordinated community effort, The Salvation Army is committed to helping all children “Thrive by Five.” Investing in our children is the right thing to do, and the research shows that it will benefit all of us in the long run.
The Salvation Army serves provides high quality child care for low income families, serving infants, toddlers, pre-school and school age children.
The Salvation Army provides Universal Pre-K (UPK) for 4 year olds, which is expanding from half day to full day. In addition, we collaborate with PEACE, Inc. to offer Head Start services.
The Salvation Army provides home-based case management services for families experiencing challenges that may lead to safety risks for children.
The Salvation Army provides residential services and support for young, homeless mothers and their infants for up to two years, including parenting classes and mentoring.
An African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” At The Salvation Army, we see this each day, as our dedicated staff works hand in hand with other community organizations and an army of volunteers to provide life changing services to children and families. You can invest in local children by donating your time or resources. To get involved, please call 434-1395.
This article was adapted from our Winter 2015 "Others" Newsletter