3 Benefits of Attending Pre-School

If you find yourself wondering about the benefits pre-school (or pre-K) has on young children, you’re not alone! Research has shown that pre-K offers children early growth opportunities that play a vital role in reaching their maximum potential. Here are three positive effects of attending pre-K that are easy to learn, remember, and share with others in your circle of influence.

1. It Helps Kids Become Academic Superstars

Did you know that students who attend a pre-K program score higher on reading and math tests than children who only receive parental care? It’s true! To raise a future voracious reader or a STEM star, enrolling kids in pre-K gives them a leg up on these goals.

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2. It Teaches Kids to Play and Work with Others

One of the most important skills in life is the ability to collaborate and work with other people. The best way for kids to learn to get along with others is through consistent interactions with other children under the guidance of caring adults. Pre-K gives them exposure to how the world works: how to put someone else’s needs in front of their own, how to listen, how to ask questions, and how to share. All of these skills lead to a thriving, healthy being.

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3. It Gives Kids a Better Chance at Future Success

Children who participated in high-quality pre-K programs were more likely to graduate from high school, compared with 60 percent of children who didn’t. This fact comes from a long-term study called the Perry Preschool Project, which followed low-income children who had enrolled in pre-K over multiple decades. Better futures for kids start when they’re very young!

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5 Numbers Demonstrating BY5's 2018 Success

Our 2018 Annual Report recently released! Here are a few highlights that show a few of the ways BY5 has been successful in the past year.

1 Statewide Award 

Last fall, BY5 was honored with the Lilly 2018 Community Early Learning Champion Award. This award recognized the ways BY5 has not just been a leader in Delaware County, but acted as a positive example of what early childhood action can look like to coalitions throughout the state.

37 Little Free Libraries

The number of Little Free Libraries strategically placed around Delaware County grew to 37 in 2018. These take-a-book, leave-a-book depots not only offer books for children, but allow adults to pick up reading material for themselves for free—modeling the importance of literacy for the young people in their lives.

18,000+ Diapers

Since launching the Diaper Bank of Delaware County in 2018, BY5 has distributed over 18,000 diapers to community diaper banks around the county. The diapers don’t just help the children in need—supplying this costly expense to struggling families also helps them economically.

100 Smiling Children

One specific way BY5 helped support community literacy efforts this year was by donating books to Open Door Health Services for their annual community holiday party. Open Door said the books were given away to 100 children at that event, who were enthusiastic to receive engaging reading material.

500 Partner Engagements

BY5 counted over 500 engagements with partners in the BY5 Network in 2018. An engagement can be anything from volunteering to read a story with our Ready Set Read program, to hosting a Little Free Library, to a full-on organizational partnership. BY5 is thrilled to be able to work with such a diverse range of partners to help better the lives of children in our community.

5 Facts About Nature Play

Nature Play Days is almost here! If you’re not familiar, Nature Play Days is a week-long event in June (June 8–16 this year) that aims to get as many families outside doing free, nature-based activities in the community as possible. Nature Play Days is put on by the Indiana Children and Nature Network and administered locally by BY5. There will be close to 60 Nature Play Days activities going on in Delaware County during the week.

Since Nature Play Days is so close, it’s a great time to familiarize yourself with the benefits of nature play. Below are a few ways that being outside can help children grow, develop, and thrive.

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1. School gardens positively impact children's learning and behaviors.

Gardening has myriad benefits for children: it gives them a chance to interact positively with local ecosystems, helps them understand the food chain, and research shows it can also positively impact test scores. If you have a garden near you, invite your kids to help dig—the benefits of their experience will go far!

2. Children benefit from appropriate risk-taking during outdoor play.

Risk-taking is a part of life, and the ability to make independent decisions about one’s actions is key for success in school, work, and life. Letting children take risks in the context of a natural environment helps their development of risk assessment immensely.

3. Nature reduces stress in children.

One 2003 study from Cornell showed that even having a view of nature helped reduce stress in highly-stressed children. When children are allowed to play in green space, stress levels went down further.

4. Direct experience in nature contributes to multiple developmental capacities. 

According to Dr. Stephen R. Kellert, who wrote Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection, “Play in nature, particularly during the critical period of middle childhood, appears to be an especially important time for developing the capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and emotional and intellectual development.” Exposing children to green spaces helps their brains for life.

5. Childhood experiences in nature are tied to adult attitudes toward the environment.

For adults concerned about the environment, taking a young child into nature on a regular basis may help. Children who are exposed to places like woods, walking trails, and other natural spaces are more likely to have positive attitudes toward the environment as adults.

How BY5 Works to Alleviate Cost of Childcare

BY5’s vision is to revitalize the community so it can thrive long-term. More specifically, we focus our efforts on early childhood education, as research shows high-quality childcare and education forms a strong foundation for a child’s success later in life—even through adulthood.
 
Through strategic, collaborative partnerships throughout the community and with programs like On My Way Pre-K, BY5 is able to better prepare children in Delaware County for this successful “cradle to career” path.

But what exactly is Delaware County's need for these partnerships and programs?

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1. Delaware County has the state's 2nd highest cost of childcare.

At an average of $10,731 each year, it is more expensive to send a child to high-quality childcare than to pay for one student’s annual tuition at Ball State University.

2. High childcare costs negatively impact the workforce.

It’s estimated that the average working parent misses more than 13 days each year due to childcare issues. Some parents even leave their jobs to stay home with their kids to avoid childcare expenses.

3. There are currently more than 7,000 children aged 0-6 in Delaware County. 

Of those, only around 30% are enrolled in high-quality early childhood care and education programs.

BY5: A Community Collaborator & Convener

Since inception, BY5 has played an integral role in the community by not only ensuring a future for Delaware County’s youngest citizens, but also by acting as both a collaborator and a convener. Below are a few ways BY5 is currently involved in the larger web of the community.

BY5 truly could not be successful without strong partnerships like the ones listed. Continued collaboration between organizations and agencies will ensure all families in Delaware County can thrive.

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Muncie Community Schools

  • BY5 helps provide funding for MCS’s Kickoff to Kindergarten program. Kickoff to Kindergarten is a “jump-start” program that helps children become oriented to Kindergarten, helping them to be more successful once the school year starts.

  • BY5 was a major partner in bringing about MCS’s four Paths-to-Quality Level III pre-schools.

  • BY5 has already provided or is slated to provide a Little Free Library for every elementary school in MCS.

8Twelve Coalition

  • BY5 participates on the Education and Services Committee, which works to help 8Twelve residents connect to needed services and opportunities to help improve their quality of life. The Education and Services Committee is currently training more Family Navigators to act in the 8Twelve area, and BY5 convenes organizations with a stake in childhood development to research the needs of early childhood education in the 8Twelve area.

  • BY5 is also involved with WIPB’s Ready to Learn grant, which works to provide more science, technology, engineering, and math education to young children in under-served areas of the community. As part of these grant efforts, BY5 will provide WIPB four Little Free Libraries to place in the 8Twelve area.

  • BY5 serves on the 8Twelve Steering Committee, and the 8Twelve Coalition has worked with BY5 on the BY5 Lead Task Force. BY5 also provided books to give away to children at the 8Twelve Coalition’s Trunk or Treat event in October of 2018.

On My Way Pre-K 

  • BY5 is the lead agency for On My Way Pre-K in Delaware County, a statewide effort to roll out free pre-K to eligible 4-year-olds. On My Way Pre-K currently exists throughout 20 counties in Indiana.

  • BY5 brought together Huffer CCR&R and local childcare providers to get the word out about On My Way locally.

  • Through collaborative efforts, BY5 has been able to fill 95 pre-K spots in Delaware County.

YouthLink 

  • BY5 is now part of an exciting pilot program, YouthLink. YouthLink, facilitated by Shafer Leadership Academy, is a group of ten non-profits working to help families access services in a more effective and efficient way.

  • The program plans to work with families over the course of a year to see how a child’s connection to multiple non-profit organizations can affect the child over time.

  • Through the program, BY5 will collaborate with Shafer Leadership Academy, Boys and Girls Club of Muncie, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Indiana, Motivate Our Minds, TeenWorks, Upward Bound at Ivy Tech, Project Leadership, Muncie Public Library, and Appletree YMCA.

On My Way Pre-K: 3 Things You Need to Know

On My Way Pre-K is Indiana’s free, funded Pre-K program available to eligible 4-year-olds in select counties, including Delaware County. BY5 is the lead agency for the program in Delaware County, but partners closely with Huffer CCR&R and other local partners to make sure the program is a success throughout our community.

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1. The program now has rolling admission.

Previously, families could only enroll their child in pre-school at set times throughout the year. Now, however, the program is allowing children to enroll as long as there are spots available—and there are still plenty of spots available in Delaware County.

2. Delaware County houses over 20 providers.

The list of On My Way Pre-K providers keeps growing and includes sites at diverse locations, like childcare centers, and home daycares, and four elementary schools in Muncie (South View, Grissom, East Washington Academy, and Muncie Area Career Center). This wide variety of sites allows families to choose the Pre-K program that’s right for their needs and desires.

3. Delaware County's new On My Way coordinator is here to hep families. 

Delaware County’s On My Way Pre-K Coordinator, Haylie Reese, has worked exclusively since last fall to help families and providers access On My Way Pre-K. Families can call or text Haylie.

MCS Pre-School Collaboration: A High-Quality Partnership You Need To Know About

In 2017, Muncie Community Schools (MCS), Huffer CCR&R, and BY5 came together in a unique opportunity funded by the George and Frances Ball Foundation to expand MCS’s pre-school offerings. Research shows that high-quality early learning experiences can have positive effects on school readiness, and that’s what the MCS pre-school project set out to do—provide more children access to high-quality pre-school.
 
2018 saw the pre-school partnership between these entities become a reality. Since the beginning of the year, the MCS pre-school classrooms—which exist at Grissom, South View, East Washington Academy, and Muncie Area Career Center—have filled. As of November 2018, all are rated as Paths to QUALITY Level 3 Centers.

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What is Paths to QUALITY?

According to childcareindiana.org, Paths to QUALITY is Indiana’s voluntary rating system for early care and education programs. It is a free resource to help families make informed decisions and to help early care and education providers improve the quality of their programs.

From the beginning, BY5, MCS, and Huffer CCR&R worked together to ensure that all MCS classrooms were following the rating systems closely.

Why does Paths to QUALITY matter?

Centers that abide by the Paths to QUALITY rating system show that they are committed to the children in their care. Level 3 Centers—like the ones in MCS—must provide structured curriculum and enriching learning environments in addition to meeting basic safety requirements. This means that the Paths to QUALITY Level 3 classrooms in MCS are giving children a better chance to come to school ready.

How else is this partnership being supported?

Because each classroom is rated as a Paths to QUALITY Level 3 Center, this means that the classrooms are also eligible for reimbursement through the On My Way Pre-K program. Each time an eligible On-My-Way Pre-K student enrolls in an MCS pre-school classroom, the classroom receives a reimbursement that helps make the classroom sustainable.

 
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BY5 announces a new executive director

 
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MUNCIE, INDIANA — Delaware County BY5 Early Childhood Initiative, Inc. recently announced Missy Modesitt as the organization’s new executive director.

“We are very excited to have someone with Modesitt’s unique combination of experiences and skills lead BY5 in the next phase of our development,” said Pat Botts, chairman of the board of directors of BY5. “Her background gives her a great perspective about how early childhood education can lead to a stronger economic environment and a better community in the future.”

Modesitt joins BY5—a local nonprofit dedicated to improving Kindergarten readiness and forming strategic partnerships to advance the workforce pipeline and economic development in Delaware County—from the New Castle Henry County Chamber of Commerce, where she served as executive director for more than eight years.

“Working in the chamber world has allowed me to see the struggles our current businesses are facing in finding a willing and qualified workforce,” she said. “We must work as a community to remedy these issues, and that commitment was something I saw right away as I met the board members of BY5.”

Kelly K. Shrock, president of The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, Inc. and one of the BY5 board members, said the board had reciprocal observations of Modesitt from the beginning of the interview process.

“Her passion for education was evident to the board of directors, and we look forward to working with her as we prepare our community’s children to thrive long-term,” Shrock said.

In addition to working for a Chamber of Commerce, Modesitt has a background in teaching special education—at the middle school and university levels—and served as a national educational consultant to Pearson Learning Group, where she helped identify and close gaps in curriculum and teaching skills.

“I understand child development and the consequences of unaddressed developmental delays,” she said. “I know how important the early years are for children, and that providing parents and caregivers with the right information and services to address any delays is critical for future development.”

Modesitt believes early childhood education should be a priority. Focusing on child development as early as possible, she said, positions today’s youth to become active, qualified leaders in our communities tomorrow.

“I wholeheartedly believe that being proactive early in a child's life is the best way to affect the change we need to see in the future of our workforce and economic development in Delaware County and the whole East Central Indiana Region,” Modesitt said. “I am excited to be part of BY5 because I believe this group is truly making a difference in the lives of our children and our community.”

Q&A: What You Need to Know About BY5’s New Diaper Bank Network

September 24-30 is National Diaper Need Awareness Week. BY5 is starting the Diaper Bank Network of Delaware County to start new banks in strategic, under-served locations throughout the county; organize the overall “system” of banks into a cohesive network; improve community awareness; and increase the number of diapers available throughout the entire system.

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What is a Diaper Bank Network?

A diaper bank is any place where families with diaper-aged children (approximately 0-3 years) can consistently obtain free diapers for their children.

Why is BY5 is starting a diaper bank network?

Diapers can cost between $1,000-$1,500 a year per child, which can hamper a family’s ability to save money and even affect whether a child can stay in childcare. Not having access to diapers can cause emotional distance between children and their caretakers and can increase health issues for young children.

What are the facts on diaper need?

Nationally, 1 in 3 families struggle with diaper need. BY5 research indicates that in Delaware County, between 1,610 and 2,440 of 0-3-year-olds in lower-income families are likely to be struggling with diaper need.

Are you partnering with other organizations?

BY5’s Diaper Bank Task Force has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank & Forward STEPS, Open Door Health Services, Interlocal Community Action Project (ICAP), Huffer CCR&R, Christian Ministries, First Choice for Women, Excel Center of Muncie, and Muncie Mission – Family Services. BY5 has also received financial support from Champions for a Safe Community via their grant program from 100 Men Who Cook.
 
Going forward, BY5 will lean on its relationships with over 200 agencies to spread the word about the Diaper Bank Network of Delaware County.

How can I help?

BY5 will host a diaper donation drive during National Diaper Need Awareness Week. From September 24-30, drop off your donated diapers and diapering supplies (wipes, diaper cream, etc.) at the following locations:
Muncie YWCA | Habitat ReStore | Ball State Office of Community Engagement
 
To stay up-to-date on future developments of the Diaper Bank Network of Delaware County, visit http://www.muncieby5.org/diapers

Kindergarten Readiness in Delaware County

Kindergarten readiness is a big topic, but understanding it is key to understanding our children’s—and community’s—future chances for success. Here are the basics you need to know:

1. BY5 has been measuring Kindergarten Readiness since 2013.

In 2013, BY5 conducted its initial round of Kindergarten Readiness assessments in all Muncie Community Schools Kindergarten classrooms. Each student was measured on a variety of factors, including social skills, literacy, and more (to learn about how we did it, see item #2.) The info was compiled collectively and gave BY5 an initial set of data to consult when considering the big-picture view of Kindergarten readiness in Delaware County. INSPIRE Academy, Yorktown, Selma, Daleville, Cowan, Burris, and Muncie Community Schools will all participate in BY5’s Kindergarten Readiness assessment in 2018.

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2. Kindergarten Readiness is measured using the Essential Skills Checklist.

The Essential Skills Checklist was developed by local pre-school and Kindergarten teachers in order to authentically gauge what “Kindergarten Ready” looks like in our community. The checklist—and the data it produces—has been validated as reputable by education experts at Ball State University and contains 23 developmentally appropriate items. It looks for a child's ability to identify five colors, listen to a story to completion, ask for help, and other skills.

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3. In 2017, Kindergarten readiness was higher in county schools and lower in MCS.

In 2017, Muncie Community Schools had close to 60% of children "Not Ready" for Kindergarten. Collectively, school systems in Delaware County rated at around 20% "Not Ready." A few large-scale factors contributing to low Kindergarten readiness include poverty, adverse childhood experiences (death, homelessness, divorce), and poor social-emotional health. BY5 works to curtail low scores with many initiatives, like "Kickoff to Kindergarten" preparation camps for at-risk incoming Kindergartners.

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