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

Dane County Executive and United Way of Dane County Open Leopold Early Childhood Initiative Office

January 16, 2013
Carrie Springer, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823, cell (608) 843-8858
County Executive

New office brings resources to help get kids ready to succeed in school

Dane County’s commitment to closing the achievement gap took the next step today as County Executive Joe Parisi opened a new Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) office in the Leopold Elementary School neighborhood. The new office is part of Dane County’s partnership with the United Way of Dane County to create a birth to four-year old kindergarten program.


“This investment will help make sure more kids enter four-year old kindergarten ready to succeed,” said Parisi.  “Collaborative efforts like this one to provide investments early will help bridge the achievement gap by giving kids and families the tools they need for a stable learning environment.  The achievement gap cannot be closed by the schools alone and this office will coordinate the community response that is needed to help address this problem.”


The office opening is part of the ‘Leopold Early Childhood Zone’ created in the County Executive’s 2013 budget. It builds on the county’s successful ECI program to help children and families get the skills they need to succeed in school and works with the United Way’s Parent-Child Home Program to comprehensively help kids. 


 “38% of Madison children entering kindergarten do not have the skills necessary to be successful in school,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County. “Children who start school behind their peers have difficulty catching up. The creation of Early Childhood Zones, like this one at Leopold, will assure that children enter school prepared, ready to learn, and ultimately graduate from high school. We are thrilled to be partnering with the County Executive to help our youngest citizens.”


The ‘Leopold Early Childhood Zone’ will provide hands-on resources for parents, located in their own neighborhood, to help them prepare their children for success in school with at-home education and an emphasis on enrollment in 4-year-old kindergarten at Leopold School. 


It will also expand home visitations in the Leopold area and link families with the resources they need to eliminate household instability to help maintain regular school attendance.


Children will receive regular in-home visits from staff, and together, children and their parents will be taught valuable developmental skills.  Children and their parents can also attend regular program events that reinforce the work they do together at home. These sessions will help children prepare for and succeed in school, as well as help their parents continue a lifestyle of learning at home.


The new Leopold office is complemented by two Play and Learn sites operated by the United Way and the Madison Metropolitan School District, giving additional educational opportunities for parents and caregivers to reinforce the learning strategies they will be gaining through the Early Childhood Zone.


Other partners in the ‘Leopold Early Childhood Zone’ include the Madison Metropolitan School District, Group Health Cooperative, Forward Service, Center for Families, Children’s Service Society, Dane County Parent Council and the South Central Workforce Development Board.


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