The Ready Kids East County Initiative aims to address the structural root causes that underpin the opportunity gap for Black and African American children when it comes to being ready for kindergarten.
Why kindergarten readiness in East County?
In order to succeed in school, career, and life, young children must be fully supported and prepared to begin kindergarten.
A child’s wellbeing is one of the best predictors for whether or not they’ll be ready for kindergarten. Studies show that economic, food, and housing security, as well as health and wellness, resiliency in the face of trauma and adversity, and access to resources are inextricably linked to a child’s wellbeing, and therefore how ready they are for school.
But not all children have the same resources to support their readiness for school.
Alongside discriminatory school and community environments, racist policies have systematically drained resources from communities of color—especially Black communities—for the benefit of white communities. Our 2017 study of kindergarten readiness in Contra Costa surfaced the racial disparities between Black and Hispanic/Latinx children that exist as a result of this disinvestment and violence, historical and present.
It truly takes a village to get our kids ready for school, and even more so to transform years of racist policies.
That’s why we started Ready Kids East County, a community-led effort to identify what it will take to reimagine our early childhood system into one that rallies around Black children and everything they need from us—parents, caregivers, teachers, faith leaders, and more—to be ready for kindergarten.
Where do we start?
Our first step in this journey is to gather and listen.
We at First 5 Contra Costa know we don’t have all the answers and can’t do this alone. That’s why we’ve formed a Design Team with local Black leaders, parents, schools, and other community organizations in Pittsburg and Bay Point to design and plan Ready Kids East County. We’re creating spaces where community members can come together, learn from one another, and build on their collective power to identify solutions and make change.
The first of these spaces was a series of five K-Ready Parent Cafes, where parents and caregivers of Black children in Pittsburg gathered alongside First 5 staff and community partners.
Watch this space for a new series of parent cafes, coming in 2022!
From this learning, we will co-design an intervention that gets at the root causes of kindergarten readiness, grounded in the wisdom, knowledge, and creativity of community members and families.
Ready Kids East County is made possible by our partnerships with:
- Tandem Partners in Early Learning
- East County First 5 Center
- Pittsburg Unified School District
- C.O.P.E. Family Support
And by generous funding from the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation.