Dauphin County Commissioners approve resolution joining with communities nationwide to invest in children from prenatal through age 3

HARRISBURG, PA (December 12, 2018) Joining with communities across the country, the Dauphin County Commissioners today approved a resolution aimed at addressing early childhood issues that lead to problems in later life.

 Specifically, the commissioners are committed to ensuring the county’s youth have access to early learning opportunities so they are prepared for kindergarten – a crucial step in a child’s successful development.

“Many times, behavioral issues result in young children getting suspended or expelled from daycare, which puts them at a disadvantage when they start kindergarten,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversees the county’s human services and early intervention efforts. “We are working with parents and daycare providers on ways to address problem behaviors so children can remain in daycare and have the skills they need to begin kindergarten.’’

The initiative behind the “National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers Resolution to Promote Investments in Young Children and Families from Prenatal to Three’’ is an effort between the National Association of Counties, National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT) and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI).

PCI, a project of the J.B. and M. K. Pritzker Family Foundation, is committed to building a promising future for our country by investing in and supporting solutions in early childhood development for children prenatal to age three, with the goal of every child reaching kindergarten ready to learn.

Funded through the PCI, NCIT brings together national partners, early childhood leaders, philanthropy, policymakers and practitioners inside and outside state and local government to create and strengthen promising policies and programs, and share what works, so that more states and communities can support the healthy development of our youngest children.

Since receiving a $25,000 grant from PCI earlier this year, Dauphin County has held two trainings attended by parents and early childcare providers representing 19 programs. Additionally, two “Listening Sessions’’ were held in which providers from eight programs discussed their successes and challenges in supporting children and families and ways the county can help.

Dauphin was one of only eight counties – and the only one in Pennsylvania – to receive this grant. In the coming months, the county plans to provide additional training sessions with early childcare providers and parents on how to implement positive behavior strategies and identify children with developmental issues.

By the end of 2019, the county has a goal of reaching 468 at-risk infants and toddlers, with that number increasing to 2,342 children by December 2023.

“One of the best ways we can ensure our communities continue to thrive is by investing in our children,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste.

Early childhood experts have identified preschool program suspensions and expulsions as a significant concern and one reason that an estimated 3 million children are at risk of entering kindergarten not ready to learn. Nationally, out of every 1,000 children, 27 are expelled every year from child care centers and almost seven are expelled from pre-kindergarten programs, according to a 2016 Yale report cited by the federal Office of Child Care at Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.

“Unlike some programs that only work with childcare providers, reaching out to parents is an important part of our initiative,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “For our children to succeed, parents and childcare providers have to work as a team.’’