Early Childhood Zone Coming to North Side; Goal is Stable Learning Environment at Home


September 26, 2016

by Oscar Rennebohm Foundation

A key to learning for young children is a stable home environment, so a partnership has been established aiming to provide just that on Madison’s North Side.

The Northside Early Childhood Zone was announced Monday by the partners in the effort, including the Madison School District, United Way of Dane County, the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation and city and county leaders.

The goal, according to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, is to bring county and community resources together in the interest of families, with housing and employment assistance for parents to help nurture the youngsters.

The Northside Early Childhood Zone will have home visitation services and behavioral health support for family members, in an effort to get kids, from newborn to the first day of 4-year-old kindergarten, prepared for school, according to a news release.

The effort includes three staff members dedicated to coordinating home visits, housing, employment, mental health services and other critical services, including a bilingual specialist.

The Rennebohm Foundation is the key financial partner, pledging to invest “millions of dollars” to help young families on the city’s North Side for years to come. Foundation president Steven Skolaski declined to give a specific amount.

“For the past year, the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation has been engaged in the study of the status of resources in our community for children birth to 3 years old and their families,” said Jane Belmore, early childhood project director for the foundation.

“Madison has many high-quality resources for families, but the study confirms we do not have enough resources for all families, and we don’t always reach the families who need the resources the most,” Belmore said.

The zone will be the fourth in the county, joining those in the Leopold Elementary School attendance area in Madison, and the Verona and Sun Prairie school districts.

The new zone takes in the Blackhawk Middle School attendance area, which has four elementary schools: Mendota, Gompers, Lindbergh and Lake View.“Mendota Elementary has the highest percentage of low-income students in all of Dane County, closely followed by the other North Side elementary schools,” the release says.

Originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal.

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