Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County (CSC) is working hard through its quality improvement system and funding so that Palm Beach County children have access to high-quality child care.
Through its partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County (ELC), which administers child care subsidies and scholarships, CSC provided child care assistance to more than 9,000 children last year, staff informed the Council at its monthly meeting. Without these scholarships, many parents of young children would be unable to work or go to school. Statewide, 27.6 percent of children (up to age 5) receive help paying for child care. In Palm Beach County, that number jumps to 33.5 percent because of CSC funding.
Another 8,000 children served by ELC benefited from CSC’s child care-related programs and services, such as attending a child care site that participated in the council’s Strong Minds network.
Strong Minds is a voluntary, quality rating and improvement system supported by CSC, which helps child care providers improve the quality of their care in a variety of ways. An evaluation of the network, also presented to the Council, found that:
- The system is developing well and making adjustments as needed.
- CSC has strong relationships with its partners and providers. Around 240 child care sites are part of the Strong Minds Network.
- About 87 percent of children in Strong Minds sites receive public funding and 78% of Strong Minds enrollment were in poor communities.
This is important because studies have shown that children who receive high-quality child care are more likely to be ready for kindergarten.
In other business
Achieve Palm Beach County: In an effort to ensure every Palm Beach County high school graduate finds a meaningful career with a sustainable wage, Children’s Services Council has joined 40 other local organizations in this collective impact initiative. Achieve Palm Beach County aims to help high school graduates compete a post-secondary credential within six years of graduation. The initiative is part of the Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures Youth Master Plan.
To help support this work, CSC has committed $25,000 for the first year, with a possibility of $25,000 for another two years, if the initiative is successful in hiring an executive director. So far, seven other organizations also have provided funding, with United Way of Palm Beach County agreeing to act as the administrative and fiscal agent.
Race to Equity Summit: Close to 500 people participated in the My Brother’s Keeper: Race to Equity Summit in early February. Of those, about 125 were middle and high school students. The goal of the summit was to bring together representatives from government, community organizations and business, as well as local residents and leaders to promote meaningful dialogue and planning around racial equity.
The pre-summit session acted as a call to action, encouraging government and community to work together to change the trajectory for boys and men of color. The two-day event featured many prominent national and local speakers, as well as thought-provoking breakout sessions. The Council was a major partner in planning the summit.
Reading Campaign: In May, Children’s Services Council will launch free book fairs at every traditional and charter elementary school in Palm Beach County for the sixth time. The “Happily Ever After Begins with Reading” early literacy campaign will reach more than 90,000 school children, who will get to pick and take home a book of their own. The goal of the campaign – developed in partnership with the Palm Beach County School District, the county library system, municipal libraries, The Palm Beach Post, United Way and others - is to boost children’s summer reading and fight what’s known as “the summer slide.”
After a competitive bid process, the Council awarded the book distribution contract to Scholastic, Inc. The contract is not to exceed $295,500.
Special Needs Equipment Fund: Staff reported that during the last fiscal year, 42 children were provided much-needed equipment through this fund, in which Children’s Services Council allocates $95,000 through a contract with United Way. A majority of children who benefited from the fund were between ages 10 and 17, and lived in four zip codes (33404 in Riviera Beach, 33415 and 33417 in West Palm Beach, and 33463 in Greenacres). The purpose of the fund is to help qualified children with special needs obtain equipment and supplies that help them function to the best of their abilities. This fund is used by applicants who do not quality for, or have timely access to, any other resources used to purchase such equipment.
Transportation: Staff notified the Council that Transportation Consultant Tomas Boiton, who facilitates and coordinates transportation services to the Healthy Beginnings System of Care clients and to Head Start/Early Head Start families, has been placed on a performance improvement plan (Corrective Action Level II) for billing issues related to its contract. The Transportation Consultant’s primary role is to ensure transportation to medical appointments.
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County is an independent special district established by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. The Council provides leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong. To learn more, please visit www.cscpbc.org or contact Shana Cooper, public information officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561.740.7000 ext. 2170.