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Knowledge From the Field

Village Building and School Readiness: Closing Opportunity Gaps in a Diverse Society

Published: January 2007

Publisher(s): State Early Childhood Policy Technical Assistance Network (SECPTAN)

Author(s): Bruner, Charles; Syed Noor Tirmizi; Michelle Stover Wright

Funder(s): Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Related Organization(s): Child and Family Policy Center

View Report (93 pages; 822KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Strengthen Early Learning

Abstract: Data on children’s health and development have shown the need to better serve young children and their families both to improve educational achievement overall and to close racial and income gaps in school readiness and success. Previous reports have acknowledged the role that communities play in child development, but more clearly defined impacts that a community has on child development and strategies that can strengthen community capacity to improve child development and school readiness need to be examined. The report tries to address some of these topics, focusing upon the special issues and opportunities for building early learning systems in what have variously been described as vulnerable neighborhoods, disinvested neighborhoods, or poor, immigrant, and minority communities.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

= There is need for disproportionate investment in early learning in vulnerable neighborhoods to make up for the substantial disinvestment in the type of physical, economic, and human capital development in these neighborhoods compared to more affluent neighborhoods, where such investments usually can be taken for granted.

= Mutual assistance cannot occur without the time, space, and opportunity for people to come together. Further, facilitative leadership is essential to taking advantage of these settings to reach out and engage families, support growth, activate leadership, and foster reciprocity and co-production.

= Career ladders and pathways must be developed which ensure that those within vulnerable neighborhoods are given the opportunity to become the next generation of leaders and professionals.

= Provide the time, space, and opportunity for parents and residents in vulnerable neighborhoods to design and implement strategies, programs, and activities that meet their needs and build upon their passions. This also means helping to ensure that their voices are heard in the larger community, where resource allocation decisions are usually made.

Geographic Focus : National

Subjects/Keywords : Early childhood education; low income communities; vulnerable neighborhoods; achievement gap

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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