A Year of Uniting – Supporting Young Children

The healthy development of our region’s youngest, most vulnerable children is critical to our efforts to make progress against big issues like ending intergenerational poverty and closing the persistent achievement gap in education.  With more than 182,000 children living in poverty in Massachusetts, we worked hard with our early education partners in 2019 to engage families and provide high-quality learning environments for children in need, providing the solid foundation needed for their future educational success.

With your support, United Way last year invested over $3.2 million in a network of 88 nonprofit partners and innovative early childhood initiatives.  Together, we helped 17,785 young children by providing access to high-quality early education programs and ensuring families have the resources needed to care for their children and strengthen their own financial well-being. 

What’s more, we recommitted to moving the field of early childhood beyond its current crisis of a business model that isn’t sustainable or scalable and worked to strengthen it by supporting early education workforce initiatives and attracting public and private investments for innovative models that have the ability to change the trajectory of the lives of thousands and children and families. 

Key to achieving lasting change at scale are partnerships with city and state leaders who share our vision for the healthy development and educational success of children in need.  Here are five ways we partnered with local and state government leaders to support young children in 2019.

Expanded our DRIVE universal developmental screening model and database statewide. 

We partnered with the Department of Early Education and Care to ensure child care providers have easy access to data and resources to support on-time, healthy child development.  DRIVE partners with early education and care providers to aggregate data from child screenings they conduct using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. They then utilize the data to improve program quality and offer parents information based on the results from individual children. United Way is expanding DRIVE to reach some of the most vulnerable Massachusetts infants and toddlers through screening more children outside of formal early education classrooms.

Partnered with Lynn Public Schools and the city’s early childhood providers to increase the number of children who enter kindergarten ready to learn.

Lynn’s city, school and community leaders rallied to create a plan to ensure all children are screened for healthy childhood development with the goal of increasing the number of children who enter school ready for Kindergarten. Agencies such as Lynn Economic Opportunity are using United Way’s DRIVE database to reach the city’s youngest residents with the services they need to be ready for school.

Attracted public and private funding to build the capacity of early childhood providers and support their small business operations through our innovative Shared Services model.

Key partners included UMASS Boston, who offered a small business innovation course to family child care providers in Boston, the Cambridge Community Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Boston, Early Learning New Hampshire/Spark NH, University of New Hampshire, Connections for Health Integrated Delivery Network, Pritzker Family Foundation and the Gisela B. Hogan Charitable Foundation.

Advocated to secure $6M in the Massachusetts Capital Budget Plan for the Early Education and Out of School Time fund, an increase of $2M over previous years and the largest single-year state investment since the fund’s launch in 2013.

In partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund and Strategies for Children, United Way worked with the Baker-Polito Administration to increase capital funding to improve facilities and learning environments of early education and care centers serving children in need.  Earlier this month, Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy announced six organizations serving Gloucester, Lowell, Lawrence, Boston, Hyannis, and Worcester will receive capital improvement grants that will provide high-quality learning environments to more than 700 additional children across the state.

Boston Public Schools embraced United Way as a critical partner in achieving Universal Pre-K in the City of Boston.

United Way will bring our Shared Services and DRIVE models to community-based organizations in the City of Boston who are participating in the Mayor’s universal preschool plan to build their capacity to become UPK classrooms.