Valley Advances Early Childhood Efforts


Local and Regional Discovery Grants Received

Valley United Way is very pleased to help advance regional efforts for early childhood education in the Valley as both a funder and Collaborative Agent for the Discovery process through the Early Childhood Committee of the Valley Council for Health and Human Services. The Valley towns of Ansonia, Derby and Shelton recently received individual grants, and the three towns along with Seymour received a regional Discovery Grant.

The main funder of the programs is the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. They are funding the direct costs of the Ansonia, Derby and Shelton efforts. They also provided a base grant of $25,000 for the regional grant along with an additional challenge grant of $20,000 based on a local match which has been matched through a collaboration of Valley United Way; the cities and boards of education in Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton; the Valley Community Foundation and TEAM, Inc.

Valley United Way acts as the collaborative agent for Ansonia and the regional grant while TEAM, Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley play a similar role for Derby and Shelton respectively. You can read about the regional grant below, and watch for more about the Ansonia grant soon.

Regional Grant

Through a collaboration of efforts in Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton, the Early Childhood Committee of the Valley Council for Health and Human Services is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant in the amount of $45,000 per year for the next two years, from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund (WCGMF) to continue its work in the field of early childhood education.

Matching funds of $20,000 were also acquired from the municipalities and education departments in these towns, as well as through the Valley United Way, The Valley Community Foundation and TEAM, Inc. Each of the communities mentioned pledged $2,500 each year for the next two years from their municipal and education budgets. A generous outpouring of support from the Valley United Way brought forth another $4,750 per year, while the Valley Community Foundation offered a generous $5,000 per year towards this effort. TEAM, Inc. pledged a needed $500 more to bring the total up to the full $20,000 per year for a matching grant challenge.

The Early Childhood Committee has developed an action plan for the next two years that works towards their goals of parent leadership development, professional development for early childhood teachers and providers, and increasing community involvement in early care and education.

Using Discovery grant money awarded by WCGMF, the cities of Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton have been working individually on plans to improve in areas such as kindergarten transitions to their public school systems, professional development opportunities for preschool teachers and family home care providers, public awareness of the needs of families with young children, parent involvement and much more. As work progressed in these areas, a shared vision among the communities grew and collaborative work began under the Early Childhood Committee (ECC) of the Valley Council for Health and Human Services. Seymour joined in the regional work last year, when they received school readiness funds for providing programs in their town.

In the past, the individual school readiness councils would use funds from their local Discovery grants to forward this shared work plan. With this new grant and community funding, the regional work can continue and grow while individual communities can use local Discovery grant and school readiness funds for work in their own city or town.

Pam Lorenzo, chairperson of the Early Childhood committee and Program Manager of the Nurturing Families Network of the Visiting Nurses Association of South Central Connecticut commented, “This is a very exciting time for our community and I am pleased that the William Caspar Graustein Foundation has afforded us the opportunity for collaboration on behalf of our Valley children”.

Work has already begun on the projects that the committee outlined in their grant proposal, including coordinating a “Play and Learn Fair” for families to be held on April 19, 2008, and the hiring of a coordinator to act as a point person for the work plan. Valley United Way serves as the Collaborative Agent for the regional grant.

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