Boynton Beach – Palm Beach County children in Lutheran Services Florida’s Head Start Program, which is partially funded by Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, performed better than their peers on kindergarten readiness tests for the past two years, according to an analysis CSC staff shared with the Council’s board on Thursday, June 27.
The analysis showed that in the 2016-2017 school year, 90 percent of children in LSF’s Head Start Program scored ready for kindergarten (using the Work Sampling System assessment), compared to 85 percent of children who didn’t attend LSF’s Head Start Program. In 2017-2018, the state of Florida changed its kindergarten readiness assessment to STAR Early Literacy, a computer-based literacy test. In that year, 46 percent of LSF Head Start children scored ready for kindergarten, compared to 41 percent of a matched comparison group.
CSC staff analysis also found that children with limited English proficiency, children receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, female children and children in exceptional student education all benefited from the LSF Head Start Program. However, Black children in LSF’s Head Start Program performed the same on kindergarten readiness assessments as their peers who did not attend a LSF Head Start Program. Staff told the Council they will continue analyzing the data to address the root cause of this issue.
In other business
Mental Health: The Council approved CSC to enter into an agreement with The School District of Palm Beach County for continued behavioral/mental health services for students at 10 elementary schools located in BRIDGES neighborhoods. The agreement, effective Oct. 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, would not exceed $420,000. Last school year, therapists with Center for Child Counseling, the nonprofit contracted to provide services, served more than 1,100 children at the 10 schools.
Inspector General: The Council approved a renewal of an interlocal agreement for CSC to be under the jurisdiction of the county Office of Inspector General – keeping investigations but deleting oversight services. The agreement, effective Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020, will not exceed $58,095.50 per year, with two additional years of renewal.
Prenatal to Age Three Investment Month: The Council declared June Prenatal to Age Three Investment Month to recognize the vital importance the early years play in a child’s development. The first three years of a child’s life are the most rapid period of brain development, building the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. When babies and toddlers receive what they need, they grow up healthy, safe and strong. Young children need loving, stable parents and caregivers to ensure their healthy development. Communities and governments, like Children’s Services Council, can help parents in these efforts by investing in prevention and early intervention services so children are born healthy, grow up safe from abuse and neglect and are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.
Summer Learning Week: The council declared July 8-13, 2019, Summer Learning Week and July as Summer Learning Month. Research shows that too many children fall behind academically during the summer months. This is especially true for children from low-income families. Summer learning loss is cumulative and can leave some children two to three years behind their peers in school by the time they reach 5th grade. To help address summer learning loss, also known as the summer slide, CSC supports summer learning in numerous ways. For example, CSC has increased funding for summer camp scholarships (from about $2 million in 2017 to up to $4.4 million in 2019) so more children can benefit from a safe, stimulating summer environment. CSC’s BRIDGES sites also have partnered with local libraries to enhance their Summer Reading Program. And CSC has distributed more than 100,000 free books to public school children in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade during its annual summer reading event.
About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County
The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.