Child and Youth Success

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Child & Youth Success

Children have a strong start and a strong foundation for success in school, work and life.


Our 4 Community Impact Areas are designed to deliver positive lasting change by forging innovative partnerships, finding new solutions to old problems, cultivating the best resources and inspiring action to create the change we all want to see in Gallatin, Madison, Meagher and Park Counties.

PDF of GGUW Strategic Plan for Child & Youth Success, 0-5 Years - 2018-2023  

PDF of GGUW Strategic Plan for Child & Youth Success, 5-8 Years - 2018-2023   

Strategic Focus Area Statement for Child & Youth Success (In 5 years, what will be different for our community?)

  • Children have a strong start and a strong foundation for success in school, work and life. 

Strategic Outcomes for Child & Youth Success (What results are we trying achieve?)

  • Children enter school ready to succeed and are successful in the early grades in part due to ACEs awareness and promotion of trauma-sensitive practices.
  • Students are successful in elementary school and prepared for middle school.
  • Every student in Gallatin and Park Counties has a safe, nurturing, and engaging place to be out of school.
  • GGUW kidsLINK parents experience less stress as a result of their child participating in kidsLINK.
  • kidsLINK parent are ACEs-informed and are aware of 2-1-1 and other community resources.
  • kidsLINK parents are passionate supporters of Greater Gallatin United Way.
  • Volunteers have meaningful experiences through kidsLINK Afterschool Program. 
  • kidsLINK is financially and administratively stable and sustainable.

Strategic Objectives for Child & Youth Success  (What will GGUW do to ensure outcomes happen; what tasks and/or action?)

  • Promote behavioral health and mental well-being in children and families through Project LAUNCH and The Resilience Project.
  • Expand access to high-quality early learning environments that nurture and stimulate growth along all developmental domains.
  • Actively promote early literacy skills for children and their families.
  • Provide parents, families, caregivers, and early childhood professionals with information and resources to support early learning and school success.
  • Actively assess coordination, effectiveness and accessibility of community services and policies addressing the needs of children and families.
  • Fund community partners and programs addressing child success through our Community Impact Fund.
  • Promote and engage community in GGUW’s child success initiative to ensure adequate funding of Gallatin Early Childhood Community Council.
  • Increase visibility of Greater Gallatin United Way kidsLINK Afterschool Program to enhance donor engagement.
  • Establish an active “United For kidsLINK” affinity group.
  • Align kidsLINK Afterschool Program with Greater Gallatin United Way brand and messaging.
  • Foster trauma-sensitive programs through professional development, learning opportunities and support of staff.
  • Provide meaningful engagement and educational opportunities for parents.
  • Fund kidsLINK Afterschool Programs across GGUW service area and establish sufficient scholarship and reserve funds through diverse funding streams.
Strategic 5-year Goals for Child & Youth Succss (What specific, measurable goals GGUW has in place to help achieve outcomes?)
  • 85% of incoming Bozeman Public Schools kindergartners score 530 or above on STARS Early Literacy Assessment by 2022. GGUW is also active in supporting Belgrade Public Schools early literacy initiative by 2024.
  • 2,000 Bozeman children ages zero to five are enrolled in Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
  • There are 500 new early childcare and education slots, a 25% increase, in Gallatin County.
  • 30 early care and education programs are funded through the New Early Child Care Provider Grant. 
  • Five private employers have received an “Employer-Supported Child Care & Education Toolkit” and are actively exploring establishing early childcare and education programs for their employees.
  • 90% of all Bozeman Public Schools third-graders are reading at grade level by the end of the 2025 school-year.  GGUW is also active in supporting Belgrade Public Schools grade-level reading initiative by 2024.
  • GGUW kidsLINK programming meets the growing needs of our communities to ensure no child has to be alone after school in Park and Gallatin Counties.
  • A $25,000 kidsLINK Afterschool reserve fund is established.
  • GGUW has adequate staffing to effectively administer kidsLINK Afterschool Program.  
  • 85% of kidsLINK families, children and partners appraise kidsLINK Afterschool Program as a safe, compassionate and valuable community program.
  • 75% of kidsLINK families identify kidsLINK Afterschool Program with Greater Gallatin United Way.

Why focus on Child & Youth Success?

  • Our community has a 41% shortage in licensed child care with one to two year wait lists for child care.
  • 37% of children entering kindergarten in Bozeman School District #7 eight elementary schools are not ready to learn based on 2015-16 K Assessment and that number remains consistent for reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.  
  • From 0 - 3 years, we go through unparalleled growth with trillions of brain cell connections made.
  • MT ranks 47 out of 50 states for Health (Indicators: low-birth weight, children without health insurance, child and teen deaths, teen alcohol and drug abuse).
  • MT ranks 18 for Economic Well-Being (Indicators:  children living in poverty - 2 adults & 2 children with annual income below $24,036, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in high housing cost burden - 30% or more of monthly household pretax income).
  • MT ranks 18 for Education (Indicators:  children ages 3 to 4 not in school, 4th graders not proficient in reading, 8th graders not proficient in math, high school students not graduating on-time).
  • MT ranks 14th for Family and Community.  Indicators include children in single parent families; children in families where head of household lacks high school diploma, and; children living in high-poverty areas, and teen births.
  • The average cost of child care for a four-year old is $7,900/year and $9,000/year for infant care.  In MT, child care is the largest expense for families with median incomes.
  • MT ranks 47th for children living apart from their parents (in foster care). There has been a 130% increase in foster care placements and 60% are due to drug and alcohol abuse/addiction.
  • Health and development are directly influenced by the quality of care and experiences a child has with his parents and other adults.
  • 1 in 6 children who are not reading proficiently in 3rd grade do not graduate from high school on time.
  • Overall, 22% of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6% of those who have never been poor.

Factors that contribute to third grade reading proficiency:

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.

School readiness

Research continues to show that fewer children from low-income families (less than half) are ready for school at kindergarten entry, compared to three-quarters of children from families with moderate or high incomes. For children from low-income families, preschool attendance is one of the strongest factors in school readiness; attending a high-quality early childhood program also predicts higher levels of achievement at age 11. A follow-up study of the Abecedarian Project found that by age 30, participants were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than nonparticipants. Entering school ready to learn can improve one’s chances of reaching middle-class status by age 40. And a study of the Child-Parent Center program found a long-term return to society of $8.24 for every dollar invested during the first four to six years of school, including prekindergarten.

School attendance

A report by Johns Hopkins University researchers suggested that the national rate of chronic absenteeism is 10 to 15 percent, meaning that 5 million to 7.5 million students miss at least 10 percent of their school days every year. The premise that schools fail to detect high levels of chronic absence because of data issues was confirmed by a study conducted jointly by the Child and Family Policy Center and Attendance Works. Other studies confirmed that chronic absence has a negative effect on students’ academic performance and cognitive development, especially for children from low-income families, and several new reports and evaluations measured the quality and effectiveness of chronic absence interventions.

Summer learning

Studies of summer learning programs in several different contexts all confirmed that high-quality summer programs can disrupt learning loss. Research on children from low-income families also offered new evidence that having access to books can ameliorate the summer learning slide and significantly improve scores on state reading assessments; the largest effects were for the most economically disadvantaged children.

Family support

Research published right before Early Warning helped explain how environmental factors like hunger, housing insecurity, parental depression and abuse influence the epigenome (the human “operating system”), making it more likely that specific genes will or will not be expressed. Other new research draws a link between the stress of poverty, hormonal changes and impaired learning ability. However, new research reveals that even after the epigenome has been modified by extreme childhood stress, the damage may be reversed. Furthermore, positive social-emotional experiences for young children, along with supportive family and community environments, reduce the likelihood of negative modifications to the epigenome that might impair learning.

Early Warning Signs - Full Article

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