Colchester is a small town with a population of approximately 16,068 located in New London County. Colchester experienced a population explosion from 1980 to 1990 represented by a 41% growth rate. From 1990 – 2000, Colchester experienced another 35% growth rate and currently, we have approximately 1,954 children aged birth through age eight, representing 12% of our total population.
In December, 2005 Colchester was awarded a competitive School Readiness grant from the State Departments of Education and Social Services, and so began our focused community-wide effort to improve the lives of Colchester’s youngest citizens. In April, 2008, Colchester proudly became a Discovery community and expanded our efforts to include all children birth through age eight. Our School Readiness/Discovery Initiative is governed by a Council comprised of parents, early care providers, school personnel, school administration, and the community at large. The goals of the Council are to establish consistency and continuity of expectations/child outcomes across all preschool programs in Colchester; ensure a successful transition to kindergarten for children and families, including those without a formal preschool experience; increase the public’s awareness of the importance of the early years; increase the quality of the existing early childhood education; to improve student’s social, emotional and academic performance, and addressing the needs of children aged birth through age three and their families.
In January 2008, we began to develop our results-based community-wide blueprint to address the needs of children birth through age eight and their families, and this early childhood initiative became known as The Collaborative for Colchester’s Children (C3).
We want Colchester’s children to be healthy, happy, and successful!
What are our most important hopes for our youngest children, families, and community?
A plan was developed for parents, educators, businesses, community members, agencies, and organizations to work together in partnership to provide services and support to children from birth to age eight and their families. Our efforts support Colchester children and families in the three areas of Health and Wellness - The health of children, from the time they are conceived through the first years of their life, has an enormous impact on their ability to succeed; Family Supports - Our youngest children rely on their families for everything; food, clothing, shelter, safety, education, support, and love. The family supports that we have in our community; information, parent education, financial assistance, and transportation have an enormous impact to help families so that families can, in turn, raise their children. Boosting these family supports is a major focus of our efforts; and Early Care and Education - How we educate children in early care and education settings, whether at home, with licensed providers, or elsewhere, makes a tremendous difference in how successful these children are in life.
How do we ensure that our children and families are healthy, happy and successful?
Did you know?
• Participation in a quality early childhood program can help prepare children for later schooling and life. Through the work of the School Readiness Council and other C3 efforts, the percent of children with a preschool experience remains high. In 2010-11, the tuition for 23 students was subsidized through our School Readiness grant.
• In the spring C3 promoted fitness and fun through our Family Fun Day. Colchester families participated in several physical activities; One in 5 said they would “change an action or attitude” as a result of their participation.
• We developed our website, www.colchesterC3.org. The site now contains information about C3, meeting minutes, things to do, listing of local providers, School Readiness applications, events and more.
• We are reaching out into the world of social media. Like us on Facebook and keep updated on C3 efforts and events.
• In 2011-2012 we organized another successful Preschooler’s Expo in partnership with MOMS Club of Colchester/Lebanon. About 225 individuals attended where they were able to receive information and participate in a free developmental screening.
• C3’s strong working relationship with the Colchester Public Schools enabled the two groups to quickly come together for a new grant opportunity. In mid-June a panel of twelve, consisting of school staff, the Board of Education Chair, community members, and C3 members took part in an interview to present a comprehensive and collaborative plan for meeting early literacy needs in Colchester. In August, we were notified that Colchester was one of six districts in Connecticut selected to receive $50,000 for its Early Literacy Partnership! The funds are being awarded by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, The Children’s Fund of CT, & the CT Dept of Ed.
Complete blueprint at www.colchesterC3.org & www.colchesterct.org
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