WORK

WORK

MISSION

Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) is a collaborative effort to build a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families.

A girl in a green coat stands in a park trying to catch bubbles

VALUES AND PRINCIPLES

Through a community-led process, we arrived at six values and determined the underlying principles that define our work. These values and principles guide planning and decision-making across our priorities.

  • As defined by families and reflective of our community’s diversity, authentic family voice is engaged consistently and intentionally in our work.
  • Families serve as decision-makers, partners, and change agents.
  • We equip families to serve as strong advocates for themselves, their neighbors, and Guilford County’s children and families.
  • Stakeholders from different races/ethnicities, perspectives, backgrounds, orientations, and proximity to community assets (and challenges) shape our work.
  • Perspectives of people engaged in day-to-day work with children and families (direct service providers, early childhood teachers, families, and more) are centered in decision-making.
  • Eliminating disparities is the central goal of our work.
  • We ensure marginalized populations have equitable access to information and resources.
  • We maintain a humble and respectful attitude toward individuals of diverse cultures and identities.
  • We pursue evidence from a variety of sources, including information about community context, analysis of our own effectiveness, what’s working/not working in our community (and in others), high-quality research from the broader early childhood field, and people’s stories about their own experiences.
  • We collect and use data responsibly.
  • The best available data and evidence drives our decisions and strategies.
  • We practice integrity by communicating regularly with partners about decision-making structures, practices, and outcomes.
  • Formal and informal updates are provided regularly to partners and the public about the status of activities, design processes, and implementation.
  • Protocols and policies about how data will be collected, used, shared, and safeguarded are developed through an inclusive community process.
  • We proactively and consistently identify and address structural barriers to working together across agencies/organizations.
  • We build on organizational and community strengths, aligning resources to address gaps and improve outcomes.
  • We recognize and celebrate collective action across agencies and organizations in service to young children and families.

OUR PRIORITIES

Where do we begin? Our priorities have their roots in 100-day challenges as part of the Guilford County grassroots effort that became Ready Ready. These are the main issues that help us focus on our system-building work to create population-level change.

Woven throughout our work are these supporting threads:

  • Expand early literacy resources
  • Engage family voice
  • Improve PreK to Kindergarten transition
  • Implement equity strategies that strengthen the backbone

BRAIN SCIENCE

Science shows that 80 percent of the brain’s growth happens before age three. It’s an ongoing process beginning before birth and advancing into adulthood. The first 2,000 days of a child’s life — from birth to kindergarten — are critical to emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being.

During this time, more than one million new neural connections form in the brain every second!

More than 1 million new neural connections form in the brain every second during early childhood

Brain architecture

Brain architecture provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. While genes provide the blueprint for brain circuit formation, repeated use reinforces these circuits, according to Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. A major factor in this development is the serve and return interaction between children and their parents and other caregivers in the family and community. (This serve and return can be influenced by The Guilford Basics.)

Toxic stress

Emotional wellbeing supported by responsive relationships helps lay the foundation for brain architecture. But toxic stress can weaken it, leading to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. Our society’s future depends on our ability to cultivate the next generation’s healthy development.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Spending on early childhood development is not just important for the well-being of our children, but also makes good economic sense.

An investment in children ages 0 to 3 has a higher rate of return than an investment in preschool, schooling or job training

Smart investment

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman found that the highest rates of return in early childhood development came from investing as early as possible. His research found that one of the most effective strategies for economic growth is investing in the development of at-risk young children and their families. The short-term costs are offset by a reduction in need for special education and remediation, better health outcomes, reduced need for social services, lower criminal justice costs and increased self-sufficiency and productivity among families.

All families are under increasing strain: disadvantaged familes are strained to the limit. Quote by James Heckman

A 2020 report shows working families in America had $28.9 billion in lost wages due to lack of affordable, quality childcare and access to paid family and medical leave. (Center for American Progress)

North Carolina is one of 35 states seeing an increase in the share of parents dropping out of the workforce for child care related reasons. (Third Way)

  • 36% increase from April-December 2020
  • 1.2 million workers dropped out
Every dollar invested in early childhood yields a $4 to $16 return