ON EDUCATING LARUE: Preparing children for school

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By Ron Benningfield

 Not only do educators want students to be career or college ready when they graduate from high school, they also desire young children to be prepared to enter kindergarten.

To provide community leaders, community early childhood councils, and school districts with data to assist in developing local strategies for helping these children arrive at kindergarten ready to do kindergarten work, the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood released last week early childhood data for each county in Kentucky.

Produced by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, The Early Childhood Profiles provide community leaders, early childhood councils and school districts with data that includes information about the quality and availability of child care, results from the 2013 statewide kindergarten screener, and information about participation in publicly funded preschool, Head Start and child care.

The profile also shows each county’s demographic data, participation in public health and social service programs, and key indicators of possible obstacles to success for young children and their families.

“Better preparing children for school has positive long-term effects on school achievement,” said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. “The Early Childhood Profile is a tool that can help communities assure that every child in the Commonwealth gets the best possible start in life.”

This is the second year the Early Childhood Profiles were released. On LaRue County’s page, several groups of data are displayed, providing a look into the demographic picture of the county’s young children.

For example, the county has 498 children from birth to 2 years old; 332 three to four years of age.

Among the early childhood programs 175 children are enrolled in kindergarten, 51 in preschool, and 41 in Head Start.

The profile also shows STARS (STARS for KIDS NOW) data. STARS is Kentucky's voluntary, four-star quality-rating system for licensed child care centers and certified family child care homes. The system uses a scale of one through four stars to identify levels of quality. A higher quality rating means better child-to-caregiver ratios, program curriculum, child care staff training, program regulatory compliance, and personnel policies. All STAR levels surpass the minimum licensing requirements that all programs must meet.

LaRue has five licensed STARS centers with a capacity of 485 children.  Of those centers, 14.3 percent were rated three-star facilities, 57.2 percent two-star centers. The county also has two licensed centers with a capacity of 185 children who don’t participate in the STARS program.

Visit http://kidsnow.ky.gov/School%20Readiness/Pages/profiles.aspx to access the profiles.