An ambitious plan to improve the lives of Monterey County Children got off to an official start Tuesday afternoon at the California State University, Monterey Bay, City Center.
“Together, preparing every child for life and school” by the organization Bright Beginnings is a strategic framework, laying out how to achieve tangible results for children ages prenatal to 8. It’s a shared vision of many county groups on how to better support early childhood development.
Bright Beginnings is an early childhood development initiative by the Monterey County Children’s Council.
The goals are lofty, but considered achievable. By 2025, the plan calls for doubling the number of children who are holistically supported so they are healthy, developing on track and prepared for kindergarten.
It also calls for significantly reducing gaps in kindergarten readiness between children in low-income households and children in non-low-income households by 2023.
The strategic plan has been in the works for six months.
The Early Childhood Development Advisory Group of Monterey County, the staff of Bright Beginnings/Bright Futures, First 5 Monterey County and the United Way of Monterey County laid out the strategies.
The need for the plan was obvious based on some ominous statistics. For instance:
- Only 25 percent of Monterey County children are socially and emotionally ready when they start kindergarten
- 26 percent of new mothers in the county receive late or no prenatal care
- 36 percent of new mothers in the county have less than a high school education
- Reading proficiency among third-grade students was at 49 percent in 2017
- Enrollment in preschool continues to trend down. About 54 percent of children ages 3 to 5 are enrolled in licensed care, preschool or kindergarten. In 2012 the percentage was 57 percent.
Clearly, there is need for improvement in the lives of the county’s children. And the solution, said Megan Kennedy-Chouane, senior…