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UPK's "Two-Gen" Approach Makes Preschool a Family Affair

by John Ladd , Cuyahoga County Invest in Children
yellow background in shape of kite with green crayon belowWe know that the child who arrives at the doors of high-quality pre-kindergarten sites is part of a larger family. Understanding a family’s situation and how we can support the whole family is part of our “two-generation” approach.

Case in point: Doing the best you can for your young children is stressful for any mom. Imagine the additional stress of being a new arrival in a foreign county, when you have two young children and know very little of the local language. Now, imagine you are unemployed and trying to divorce an abusive spouse. One young mom recently found herself in this situation. When she enrolled her children in preschool at the Clifton Early Learning Center, the staff quickly realized the depth of her needs.

children in a pre kindergarten classroomThe center’s staff helped her re-do her resume, find a doctor and health insurance for her children, and helped her sign up for county-funded tuition assistance. They also linked her with other resources, including Asian Services In Action for legal advice and help with housing—all in her native language.

This determined young mom now holds two jobs, and her children are doing well, with one now in kindergarten. Through regular engagement at the Clifton Early Learning Center, the whole family is also improving their English language skills.

This woman’s story is proof of how the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program’s two-generation approach can work for families. Through strong partnerships with great providers like the Clifton Early Learning Center, we are making a difference to help multiple generations within a family.

The County’s UPK program helps 5,000 children per year to have access to high-quality preschool. In 2018, we helped 1,500 children with scholarships, dispersing more than $1.28 million dollars.