Adding Pieces Of The Puzzle: Comprehensive Services For Young Children
Sep 12, 2007
Comprehensive services are essential components of high quality early care and education, especially for at-risk children. Young children s ability to grow and learn is hampered if they are hungry or sick, if they have an undiagnosed developmental delay or special need, or if their parents and families lack the resources, supports, and skills to care for them. Investing in early education without also funding comprehensive services is like trying to put together the puzzle of what children need without all the pieces.
What are states doing to provide comprehensive services? Forty-eight states plus the District of Columbia have been awarded State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grants from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. By integrating children s education into a larger system of supports, states can move towards serving children in a way that addresses families needs, which interlock and overlap traditional public service silos." The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) helps states share ideas and policies through Project THRIVE, focusing on how to improve early childhood systems for at-risk children. Also, the Early Childhood Systems Working Group has developed a policy tool to illustrate how states can integrate service systems that impact child development.
When exploring how to build and foster these systems, remember the tips on puzzle building your mother taught you: assemble the frame first, every piece on the table has a place, and don t forget to look at the big picture on the box so you remember where you re going.