All children and their families have year-round access to, and supportive services for, healthy physical and social-emotional development and success in high-quality early childhood and elementary education.

The Expectation

  • All children and their families have access to high-quality development and education opportunities, from child care for infants and toddlers through early elementary school, including after school and summer learning.
  • All children and their families have access to support and intervention services that allow each child and family to take advantage of that education—including safe housing, healthy food, safe transportation, and health and dental care.
  • Adults will pay attention to factors impacting school attendance and remove these barriers.

The Why

To fully participate in their education and developmental opportunities, children need to be healthy, safe, and present. This means their families need access to safe housing, healthy food, quality health care (including vision and dental care), and transportation.

But simply offering a needed service doesn’t mean it will reach the right child in the right place at the right time. There are currently gaps in enrollment in the earliest educational services such as preschool, where the participation rate for Latinos is 40 percent (compared to 50 and 53 percent for African-Americans and Caucasians, respectively), and the enrollment for lower-income children is 41 percent compared to 61 percent among children in higher-income categories.

Rates of participation in after-school programs are relatively low among disadvantaged and minority youth. The reasons cited for this include participant fees, poor access to safe transportation, and conflicts with other responsibilities.

Unlocking the supply and demand issue for access requires six keys.

The Science

Access to services is multidimensional, beginning with Awareness that services exist (for example, for education these may include state-funded pre-K programs, after-school or summer programs, or libraries), what the service provides, and how to obtain the services. The ability to enroll in services, even free ones, must start with awareness.

Services must be Affordable, based on the income level of the child and family. These services include those directly related to education such as preschool programs, after-school programs, and summer educational offerings, as well as support services such as ones for health and dental care.

Another key question is whether the services are geographically Accessible and located in the area needed by that population. Studies demonstrate that health care is generally less geographically accessible for lower-income children and/or those in rural areas.

It’s also necessary that a service is Available in sufficient quantity to meet a population’s needs. There’s a body of work linking the availability of books and other printed materials to language and/or reading development at various ages. Most youth are purchasing materials rather than obtaining them from schools or libraries. The study found the most popular materials were available in limited supply in schools, but that ensuring classrooms were book-rich could be helpful toward reading development.

Services can also be Accommodating, where the form and timing of delivery meets the needs of the population. This is especially important for health care, where normal operational hours may require students to be absent from school to obtain health care, dental care, or vision exams. The more a child is absent from school, the greater the gaps in learning and achievement. Services also must accommodate those with disabilities, such as hearing or vision problems. For reading materials, this implies libraries should have good ways for those with disabilities to access materials.

Services should be Acceptable, which implies there’s a match between the service and provider and the population being served. This key also encompasses some aspects related to English-as-a-second-language learners, where studies have found some instructional techniques are more suited than others. We believe having access to needed supports and services means all of these six criteria are met: awareness, affordability, accessibility, availability, accommodating, and acceptability.

The Value

We believe having access to needed supports and services means all of these six criteria are met: awareness, affordability, accessibility, availability, accommodating, and acceptability.

How Are We Doing?

Check out this population-level data indicating current conditions related to access to health care and high-quality, developmental, educational, and supportive services.

Learn from the Experts

Access: Denied
Fran Gary, CEO of Amerigroup Georgia, explains that without access, children can only hope to survive, not thrive.

Business Community Supporting School Readiness in Savannah
Paul Fisher of the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation tells how the business community is supporting school readiness in Savannah.

How Reading is Healing a Fractured County
Beth Capuson, Coordinator for Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative, shares the story of how a rural county improved third-grade reading scores from 72 percent to 95 percent.

The Impact of the Summer Slide on Children’s Success
Horizons National looks at the academic trajectory of two children—one from a lower-income family, the other from a middle-income family.

The Picture of Early Education in Georgia
Bentley Ponder of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) paints a picture of early education in Georgia.

The Role of Health in Supporting Grade-Level Reading
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, reveals why grade-level reading is a matter of health.

What Happens to Children Who Are Born Too Soon
Dr. Lucky Jain, Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, describes the effects of preterm birth on a child’s capacity to learn.

What’s Happening?

Your stories are important! Share them with us and inspire others to take action.

Partner Resources

  • Attendance Works: This national and statewide initiative promotes better policy and practice around school attendance and has developed an interactive story map, highlighting the 4 percent of school districts that represent half of the nation’s chronically absent students—including nearly 20 in Georgia.
  • Books for Keeps: This program works to address barriers related to the accessibility and appeal of reading material by providing books to children in grades pre-k through 12.
  • Bright from the Start (DECAL): Parents of children ages 0-5 can get family friendly information about child care programs, parenting tips, and access to meals.
  • The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: Our national partner’s website shares ideas and inspiration from communities across the nation. Watch Ralph Smith, the national Campaign’s managing director, discuss the power of the Get Georgia Reading Campaign’s common agenda.
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library: Dolly Parton aims to foster a love of reading among preschool children and their families by giving children one free, age-appropriate book per month from birth to age 5. Parents can register their children for this program that’s available in Georgia in Bartow, Camden, Catoosa, Clarke, Dade, Elbert, Hart, Lincoln, Lowndes, Lumpkin, Oconee, Richmond, Stephens, and Walker counties and Savannah. 
  • Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy: FFCL provides books for local communities to prepare all Georgia children ages 0-5 for reading and learning success.
  • Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS): Explore advocacy, data, and economic impact information about early learning quality across Georgia.
  • Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy: This Community of Practice (CoP) comprised of professionals, advocates, and parents serves deaf and hard-of-hearing students throughout Georgia.
  • Georgia SHAPE: This network of partners, agencies, and athletic teams offers assistance and opportunities to achieve a greater level of overall fitness.
  • Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network: This is a great resource for after school, before school, and summer learning programs in Georgia.
  • Horizons National Summer Learning: This tuition-free, summer academic program serves low-income public school students at independent schools, colleges, and universities.
  • myON Digital Library: During the summer months, myON makes its digital library of more than 10,000 books for children and youth available to Georgians for free.
  • National Summer Learning Association: NSLA’s vision is that all children and youth have access to high-quality summer learning experiences to help them succeed in college, careers, and life.
  • Pre-K Summer Transition Programming: DECAL’s six-week intensive academic program is for rising kindergarteners that meet specified criteria. The experience is designed to reduce the achievement gap by providing additional family support and resources to targeted high-needs populations.
  • Quality Rated Child Care: DECAL offers an online search tool to find “Quality Rated” early-learning programs along with tips about choosing the best child care program.
  • Read Right from the Start: These resources from the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy are for parents and educators including a Cox Campus training link.
  • Ready4KGA: Developed by educational researchers, Ready4KGA is an evidence-based text messaging program for parents of newborns, 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds provided at no cost that are customized for Georgia. Research shows that receiving fun facts and easy tips can significantly increase children’s learning.
  • School Climate Star Ratings: Schools that provide a warm, welcoming, and nurturing environment to students and staff tend to have higher attendance rates, better test scores, and higher graduation rates. The GaDOE evaluates and measures school climate for parents and stakeholders with a 1-5 star rating. The comprehensive report that schools receive helps them identify and address areas in need of improvement.
  • Sightwords.com: The Georgia Preschool Association sponsors free resources to help teach your child to read.
  • Summer Meal Programs: Many children go hungry during the summer and can fall behind in school. To ensure all kids have access to nutritious meals and learning opportunities to keep them on track year round, DECAL and the GaDOE have a summer meal program locator. Learn how to become a summer meal site sponsor.
  • Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC): This federally funded health and nutrition program is for children ages 0-5 and women who are pregnant, nursing, or have recently given birth.
  • Words2Reading: Words2Reading brings families, caregivers, and teachers the best resources in developing early language skills and reading readiness from birth to age 8. Grow your young reader through easy-to-follow videos, web links, downloadable documents, e-books, and audio clips all available online.

Need more assistance? Check out additional Campaign resources.

Check out the Bibliography of Scholarly & Related Articles.