Supporting Young Children

At United Way, we believe that all young children should enter school on a path to succeed, and that to do this, we must move the entire family forward together.

A child’s first five years of life are the most critical time for brain development, but 33 percent of Massachusetts children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn.

All children have the potential to succeed in school and in life, but not all children have the same opportunities to realize that potential. Many children lack important support that prepares them for school and academic success. Without it, these children can quickly fall behind and often never catch up. Unless they can read at grade level by third grade, they’re four times less likely to graduate from high school.

Our Solution

In low-income neighborhoods, the youngest children are most vulnerable. The stresses of poverty during these critical years do tremendous harm to a growing brain.  And children whose parents are unable to engage in their development can lag as much as 6 months behind in vocabulary development by age 2.

Our solution involves the whole family, allowing parents to work and their young children to grow and thrive, supporting them by:

  • Expanding access to high-quality early education and care programs that promote early literacy and social skills.
  • Giving parents and caregivers the resources to engage with children and support healthy development, as well as the tools to screen for developmental delays if needed.
  • Scaling a 2-Generational, whole family model that enables parents to work and children to thrive.

Our Partners

We work with 53 strategic partner agencies in 142 communities to support young children. Our partners include:

  • Nurtury
  • ROCA, Inc.
  • Catholic Charities
  • UTEC
  • Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts

View all our agency partners

How We're Doing So Far:

United Way's Annual Investment in Supporting Young Children
Children enrolled in early education and care programs last year
Families receiving home visit and parent support services

We can do even more with your help.

Strategic Initiatives

We bring together partners to pilot innovative solutions that target entrenched problems, address gaps in services, and scale best practices.


The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is supporting public schools throughout the Commonwealth via summer “step up” programs which provide extra support to young learners entering school in the fall. This approach supports school districts in giving young children an extended in-person learning experience over the summer to help prepare them to enter school.  Learn More


A first-of-its-kind initiative, DRIVE provides a system of universal developmental screening for young children, specifically those 0-5 years old. The program focuses on creating community involvement and pushes for change in public policy so we can all work to better understand and support our children’s early development. Learn more»

Shared Services

Shared Services provides early childhood education professionals throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts with important resources so they can focus their efforts on giving kids the best education possible instead of worrying about the administrative needs that come with an early childhood care business.  Learn more»

Somersworth Ready Together

Somersworth Ready Together allows low-income families and those in need to receive one-on-one, in-home conferences with teachers. The aim is to set children up for success before the school year starts. These sessions set expectations and address any needs families have, ensuring every child is ready for kindergarten from day one. Learn more»



Provide a path forward for local parents in need
Help local expecting moms and dads prepare for the challenges of parenting at our Community Baby Showers. United Way works alongside Women United to provide parents with baby supplies, parenting advice and early childhood education resources in a safe, welcoming environment. The Boston event occurs every June, in the Seacoast every May. Learn more»


Kick start kindergarten
Be a pivotal part of the K-Ready Kids mission to provide 1,750 4- and 5-year-olds throughout the Seacoast with backpacks filled with school supplies, new books, and ready-to-read activities, all so they can enter kindergarten ready and able to learn.  Learn more»

Make A Financial Impact

Provides two children with developmental screening.

Supplies Fine Motor Tool Kits for 100 children.

Provides training in social and emotional development.

Funds a parent-screener for one year.