Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Expands Program for Kids, Families to South Madison, Fitchburg Neighborhoods

July 08, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Early Childhood Initiative Opens New Office on Leopold Way

Dane County’s highly successful Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) is expanding its work to help kids and families to a new neighborhood serving Madison’s south side and Fitchburg.  County Executive Kathleen Falk and others helped mark the grand opening of the new ECI office on Leopold Way today (Thursday, July 8, 2010). 

Through time intensive, one-on-one work with families, Dane County’s Early Childhood Initiative helps moms and dads get jobs and ensures their children get a healthy start in life.  Falk noted since she created the program in 2004, the Early Childhood Initiative has helped put about 200 parents to work from low-income Dane County neighborhoods.

“Family by family, we’re helping parents pick themselves up and out of poverty and onto a path that means healthier and happier homes for them and their kids,” Falk said. 

Part of ECI’s expansion to the Leopold neighborhood is being funded through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars the county secured through the federal economic stimulus.  Over $45,000 in this funding will help ECI hire a bilingual family support specialist to help serve the high number of Latino families in the Leopold neighborhood.

The new ECI office will also be staffed with an employment and education specialist who will help moms and dads in the neighborhood secure family-supporting jobs. 

The Leopold neighborhood was selected for this work because it has higher percentages of families and children living in poverty and is in the top 25% of Dane County’s poorest neighborhoods.

"The timing of this new office is essential for the community,” County Supervisor Sheila Stubbs said.  “Joining Forces for Families has been a glove for our community and ECI Leopold will be one of the fingers."

County Executive Falk created Dane County’s Early Childhood Initiative in 2004 to meet the increasing needs of parents and kids in the Allied Drive neighborhood.  In 2008, the program was expanded to serve families in Sun Prairie and Madison’s southwest side in the area of Hammersley and Russett Roads.  This new office is Dane County’s fourth location for the Early Childhood Initiative. 

Falk meets regularly with participants of the program to help support their education and employment progress.