Ready for Kindergarten with Early Childhood Connections

Mary Barkley (right), Program Coordinator and Marcelle Heath (middle), Family Coach and Lori Moore (left) from the Lori Moore Show

Mary Barkley (right), Program Coordinator and Marcelle Heath (middle), Family Coach and Lori Moore (left) from the Lori Moore Show

Early Childhood Connections is a school readiness program funded by the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, The Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. A team of 11 family coaches serve the Battle Creek community with 14 toddler playgroups and monthly home visits to over 250 children. Family coaches also deliver a Welcome Baby Basket to every newborn residing in Battle Creek and informs all new parents of the opportunities for school readiness and the important message that school readiness begins at birth.

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A home visit with mom and kids

Kids Count Data, MEAP data and EDI data clearly indicate that children in Battle Creek and in Calhoun County in general are not ready for school.  Children come to kindergarten lacking literacy skills, communication skills, problem solving skills and especially lacking in social emotional development.  Family coaches are able to educate parents on child development milestones and teach parents  strategies and activities to support their child’s development in language, cognitive abilities, social emotional growth and motor skills from birth through school entry.  This education begins at birth with home visits and then transitions into a social setting, the toddler playgroup.  This groups include Music First, Zumba for Kids, Math for Toddlers, Knee High Naturalist at Binder Park Zoo and some are led in Burmese and Spanish giving all families access to high quality early childhood education.

To find out more about the outcomes of the program, check out the following 2015-02 ECC UW Dashboard displaying data from 7/1/14 throught 12/31/14.  For more information about the program, visit or call 269.660.1606.

Mary Barkley, Program Coordinator, and Marcelle Heath, Family Coach, from Early Childhood Connections were interviewed on the Lori Moore Show to share information about how they are helping children and families prepare for kindergarten.