Valley United Way is supporting and participating in a variety of early childhood efforts designed to ensure that all children are prepared to succeed by the time that they start their formal education. United Way has always supported a variety of early childhood centers and programs in the Valley, but in the last couple of years research has shown just how critical the earliest years are to the eventual success of children.
The William Caspar Graustein Foundation identified fifty communities in the state for Discovery grants aimed to study the issue of early childhood and to develop a greater awareness in those communities. Ansonia, Derby and Shelton were on the list, and Ansonia and Shelton immediately accepted the grants which required a cooperative effort among the schools, city government leaders, parents and a lead nonprofit serving as the fiduciary for the grant. Valley United Way agreed to serve that role in Ansonia, and the Boys & Girl's Club did the same for Shelton. Three years later, Derby joined the effort. The groups formed the nucleus of a new Early Childhood Committee for the Valley Council for Health & Human Services which added Seymour and Oxford to the mix. The effort has helped to facilitate ongoing collaboration among the Discovery communities and has now led to a regional grant that also includes Seymour. Click here to read about the latest update on the Discovery project.
United Way provided leadership to the group by identifying the new Born Learning materials developed by United Way of America as a tool to be used in all communities to help parents understand what is expected of them and their children in the critical first years of life. Copies of the Kids Basic materials are available in English and Spanish by contacting Valley United Way.
The Early Childhood Committee also conducted an Valley Child Care Capacity Study which was funded by Valley United Way. The project has used the services of Infoline and United Way of Connecticut to identify both the needs and capacity related to early child care in the Valley. Click here to see a presentation on the highlights of the study. The Committee recently released a "Lower Naugatuck Valley Child Resource Guide" which it plans to update periodically.