Do Children Really Have Access?

Merriam-Webster defines access as “a way of getting near, at or to something or someone; a way of being able use or get something; and permission or the right to enter, get near, or make use of something or to have contact with something.” Get Georgia Reading has identified Access as one of its four pillars but the Campaign is not content to accept the dictionary definition.

And, we have Georgia Tech’s Center for Health and Humanitarian Logistics to thank for urging us to push the boundaries of the definition. In fall 2013, a team of 15 Campaign leaders met with supply chain engineers at Georgia Tech to learn about how they work to improve systems and logistics operations in disaster response, long-term development, and global public health in an effort to improve the human condition.

In that learning journey, the leaders agreed that the Campaign should use six criteria for measuring its success in providing young children with access to the educational and supportive services that can ensure they achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

  • Awareness: Do families know that the supports and services are there and beneficial for their child/family?
  • Accommodating: Do the hours of operation, level of cultural competency, and/or language capacity act as a barrier to accessing the supports and services?
  • Affordable: Do the prices of the services meet the family’s income and ability to pay?
  • Accessible: Are the programs and services located in convenient locations? Are they accessible via public transportation?
  • Acceptable: Are the programs and services and their providers acceptable to families?
  • Available: Are spaces available for all who are interested in accessing the programs and services?

Campaign partners have embraced this definition of access and are coming together in new and exciting ways to ensure that children and families have access—broadly defined—to the educational and supportive services that promote reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

Through the Summer Nutrition Program, the departments of Education and Early Care and Learning collaborated with the Georgia Public Library Service to launch summer nutrition programs in the 22 counties in Georgia that didn’t have a summer food program. By delivering these nutritious meals at the public libraries, they increased access to nutrients for children’s minds and bodies.

The 100 Babies Project is identifying gaps, systems challenges, and successes to implement a statewide solution to ensure that all children born with a permanent hearing loss have access to the supports and services necessary to become proficient readers by the end of third grade.

Quality Rated is a systemic approach to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early education and school-age programs.

We will continue to push the boundaries of the definition of access until we get to our expectation that all children in Georgia will be on the path to reading proficiently by the end of third grade.