(Columbus)–An early childhood intervention program designed to prepare children for a success in the classroom is entering its third year of existence with financial support from the Columbus City Council. The Columbus Kids: Ready, Set, Learn program is led by United Way of Central Ohio and is a collaboration of more than 100 community organizations. A $250,000 amendment to the 2012 City of Columbus Budget sponsored by Council President Andrew J. Ginther and Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson, chair of the Finance Committee, will help the program continue its mission of ensuring all children enter the Columbus City School ready for success. This is done by assessing children to identify developmental delays, behavior, speech, hearing or vision problems among preschoolers. Councilmember Tyson was joined by County Commissioner Paula Brooks, United Way of Central Ohio President and CEO Janet E. Jackson, and Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Gene Harris for the public release of a report on year two of the Columbus Kids program.

“A key component of the recommendations of the report urges increased partnerships with the community and this budget amendment is a perfect way for the City to participate in getting our children ready to schools,” said Tyson. “This amendment is an investment in the future of Columbus.”

The study shows the Columbus Kids initiative successfully enrolled 2,941 children between February 2010 and September 2011, including 1,557 (60 percent) from families with annual incomes of less than $10,000. Approximately 26 percent of these children were identified as in need of referral for additional services or screening in at least one of the six measures that include testing for communication skills, gross and fine motor skills, and problem solving. An additional 18 percent were identified as in need of monitoring in at least one area. The most frequently identified areas of concern were social-emotional, fine motor skills and problem-solving.

“The evaluation shows that the groundbreaking work of Columbus Kids has been even more successful than we had hoped,” said Janet Jackson. “The investment from Columbus City Council, the Franklin County Commissioners and many other partners will greatly help us continue and expand this effective program that is so important to the success of our children.”

Columbus Kids was started in 2010 with funding from Columbus City Schools, Columbus City Schools Education Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, The Limited Foundation, The Columbus Foundation, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, The Franklin County Board of Commissioners and individual donors. In the fall of 2010, The Franklin County Board of Commissioners invested an additional $700,000 in the initiative. An evaluation of the implementation and impact of Columbus Kids was built into the original design of the initiative. Since the earliest planning stages of the project, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs has been working with the leadership team at Columbus Kids to evaluate the progress of the program.
Click here to view the entire second year Columbus Kids: Ready, Set, Learn report