New, Statewide Initiative Prepares Children for Success

December 3, 2019

Imagine an Arkansas where every child was born healthy and full-term, received every well-child visit and developmental screen and necessary services identified by those screens, participated in a home visiting program with their caregivers, attended quality early childhood programs, started kindergarten ready to succeed and was reading on grade-level by third grade.

While this vision is achievable, it’s not our reality today. That’s why the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading launched Excel by Eight (E8) in partnership with 28 organizations across the state. E8’s goal is to ensure all Arkansas children have equitable access to health care and education that maximizes their full potential.

When communities are fully plugged into a grid of family, health, education and community resources, children’s development outcomes improve. An unreliable or patchy flow of resources to the grid can result in a range of child development challenges with potentially long-lasting consequences. Creating a reliable grid, one in which all families and communities are equally plugged in, will help ensure all children have what they need to thrive.

E8 will improve child health and education outcomes and decrease existing gaps by:

  1. Building models for change in communities around the state.
  2. Identifying and addressing policy barriers that make it difficult for communities to build and strengthen their resource grids.
  3. Building public understanding of early childhood development and the public will to strengthen resource grids statewide.

The first cohort of E8 communities is in Conway, Independence, Monroe and Sevier counties. These communities are working with parents, educators, health professionals, and other community members to identify gaps in their resource grids and develop strategies for improving child outcomes.

When children thrive, entire communities do as well. An investment in our youth today is a step toward a brighter future for Arkansas. Learn more about E8 and how you can help build a strong foundation for every Arkansas child.

Angela Duran is the director of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.