Clay - Headlines

Program sheds light on the importance of early education in EKY

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email

CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT)- For many in the Appalachian region, the American dream is an empty promise.

With 26% of Kentucky kids living in poverty, children like Herman Hubbard, 2, are not getting the education they need before even stepping foot inside a classroom.

“Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high quality early education,” President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this week.

The President is pushing to expand early education programs to help low-income kids succeed in life. His proposal includes preschool for all 4-year-olds, and expand home visiting programs.

“We see in the home visits we do and in the school-age programs that we work with a real sense of desire within the families that they work with to want better for their children, but not necessarily have the tools and skill set they need to help them achieve that,” Deputy Director of Save the Children Kentucky Programs Shane Garver said.

One of those programs, called Save the Children, is an international non-profit organization that was founded right here in Eastern Kentucky in the 1930s. The program serves more than 12,000 kids throughout the Bluegrass.

“It’s a teaching tool for the parents to be one on one with the child and help them in their developmental growth,” Early Childhood Coordinator Jennifer Gates said.

Gates started working with Herman when he was 10-months old. He couldn’t sit up or even talk. Herman’s mom was 16 when she had him and is still in high school.

“The change that I’ve seen in him so far, he’s walking,” Herman’s grandmother Regina said.

Gates works with Regina on activities that expand his vocabulary and motor skills which get him ready for preschool.

“We introduce reading through a literacy program that we do a book-bag exchange with the parents and the child. We talk about the importance of reading regularly to the children,” Gates added.

“The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time. That has to change,” President Obama added.

Giving kids like Herman a fair chance to break the poverty cycle.

Save the Children is funded through state and federal governments as well as private donations.

If you’re interested in the Save the Children organization, click on the attached link.

WYMT’s Erika Glover takes a look at how Kentucky students rank among the nation in reading scores. Check out her story to see why educators say there’s many pieces to the puzzle.

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