Since 2008, IKEA US has been committed to Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success (ESSS) program in the US. This early education program supports low-income families by providing early childhood development services, including home visits by early childhood coordinators. As of July 2012, IKEA donated over $625,000 to this program.
“Simply put, early childhood education is essential to teaching kids how to learn. And yet, two out of five kids in America today aren’t enrolled in any kind of pre-school program, said Mark Shriver, Senior VP, Save the Children’s US Programs. “Without a quality early education program, children born into poverty will fall 18 months behind their peers by age four. Our partnership with IKEA supports programs that help give these kids a fair shot at success in school and life.”
IKEA became involved with Save the Children’s ESSS program because IKEA strongly supports every child’s right to a healthy secure childhood, and the opportunity for a good education and a better start in life.
What is Early Steps to School Success?
Save the Children has been working for more than 20 years to develop and support Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programs and national-level policies that benefit young children and their families.
In the United States, Save the Children provides early childhood education programs for children living in areas of rural poverty through Early Steps to School Success. With this program, Save the Children is building strong foundations for parenting and school readiness, and serving as a powerful catalyst to help children achieve a lifetime of learning.
In partnership with schools and community-based organizations, ESSS provides early childhood education services to pregnant women, mothers and children up to five years of age. It implements this work through a home visiting model for expecting families and those with children up to three, as well as transition-to school activities for children ages three to five, which includes education services for their parents and ongoing training for Save the Children’s early childhood educators.
Currently, ESSS serves over 2,500 parents and caregivers, including expecting mothers. The home visiting model is designed to assist children with language, social and emotional development, equip parents with the skills and knowledge to successfully support their child’s growth, and develop strong home-school connections.
Why is the Early Steps to School Success program important?
- Nearly one in four children in America lives in poverty
- Four year olds from poor families are 18 months behind their peers developmentally
- Children living in poverty are less likely to attend preschool, their parents are less likely to read aloud to them, and their parents are less likely to have graduated high school
- Eighty percent of brain growth occurs in the first three years of life
- Research indicates that the early years of a child’s life shape his or her readiness for entering school. The parent-child relationship plays a critical role in children’s cognitive, social and emotional development, affecting their motivation to learn
- The best way to improve the chances for lifelong success of children who live in poverty is to reach them early and ensure they have the same opportunities to learn as other children
With few, if any, early childhood education services available in poverty-stricken communities, Early Steps to School Success is a cost-effective, replicable initiative that begins with expectant parents and carries children into their early school years