“Early Childhood Zone” Created in Leopold Neighborhood
by Taylor Kilgore, age 17
A new initiative aimed at the achievement gap opened recently in Madison’s Leopold School neighborhood. It is a partnership between Dane County and the United Way of Dane County. The program intends to support learning for children from birth until they enter four-year-old kindergarten. “This investment will help make sure more kids enter four-year old kindergarten ready to succeed,” says Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
A new office is part of the “Leopold Early Childhood Zone.” The new program builds on an earlier pilot project called Early Childhood Initiative (ECI). The program will help children gain the skills they need to succeed in school and enlist the help of their families. The Leopold program provides hands-on resources for parents to help them educate their children at home. The program also arranges in-home visits to help parents create a lifestyle of learning at home. Parisi says that schools alone cannot close the achievement gap; children need a stable home with the appropriate resources. This program, combined with school efforts, can help close the achievement gap, says Parisi.
“Thirty-eight percent of Madison children entering kindergarten do not have the skills necessary to be successful in school,“ says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of the United Way of Dane County.
“Children who start school behind their peers have difficulty catching up. The creation of Early Childhood Zones, like this one at Leopold, will assure that children enter school prepared, ready to learn, and ultimately graduate from high school. We are thrilled to be partnering with the County Executive to help our youngest citizens.”
If the program in the Leopold neighborhood is successful, officials hope it will be expanded throughout Dane County.
[Sources: Capital Times; United Way of Dane County; Wisconsin State Journal]