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Early Learning Initiatives
Coweta County has participated in the State of Georgia’s Pre-Kindergarten program since its inception by Governor Zell Miller in 1993. The number of classes - thus the number of children served - has steadily increased over the years. Begun as a program to serve low-income families, the Georgia Pre-K program now provides educational opportunities to four year olds of all income levels.

Research studies across our nation have consistently trumpeted the advantages of early learning programs. One study from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found the following:

“Well-designed preschool education programs produce long-termimprovements in school success, including higher achievement testscores, lower rates of grade repetition and special education, and higher educational attainment. Some preschool programs are also associatedwith reduced delinquency and crime in childhood and adulthood” (Barnett, 2008).

Coweta County’s early learning community has been actively engaged in assessing areas of need in our community as well as how those needs might be addressed. The Newnan – Coweta Chamber of Commerce formed the Early Learning Commission (ELC) in 2005 to study these issues. The committee identified both a lack of any childcare centers accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC) and few local training opportunities for area childcare professionals to be among the greatest needs.

A study was commissioned in 2007 and funded by a United Way grant to ascertain viability and support for such a center within the Coweta census tracts with the lowest income levels. The YMCA, the largest childcare provider in the Atlanta metropolitan area, was identified as the likely program operator. Unfortunately the economic climate in the past three years has impacted the ELC’s ability to obtain “bricks and mortar” funding for a center.

The ELC continues its efforts to develop a local NAYEC center and support other opportunities to bring a national best practices program to Coweta County by their involvement in the Early Learning Roundtable. The Early Learning Roundtable represents an expanded collaboration within the community to bring the Parents as Teachers, School Transition and Parent Leadership strategies to Coweta County in addition to supporting and expanding quality area programs serving early childhood education. Engaged members from all sectors of the community have been involved in the process, including both public and private childcare providers, government officials, community leaders, business professionals, area colleges and universities, and non-profits focused on literacy and early learning. Together, a wide range of options were identified and evaluated to develop a plan for Coweta County.

From the public-private collaboration, the Coweta County Schools Grow & Learn Family Enrichment Program has evolved. Working with families in the Jefferson Parkway and Ruth Hill Elementary schools attendance areas, our Parent Educators have engaged in personal visits, developmental screenings, and group meetings as well as provided connections to various resource networks within Coweta County. Parents are their children’s first teachers and the home is a child’s first classroom. The Parents As Teachers segment of our Family Enrichment Program works with parents to establish a strong foundation for the future success of their child. Community partners, including the Summit YMCA, Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, and Breakaway Childcare Center, work with us to establish school transition plans, summer camps, parent resource rooms, and literacy activities for our families.

This unique public-private partnership, fostered by United Way and the school system, has helped move Coweta County farther into the forefront of early childhood education. If you would like further information regarding this program please contact one of the following:

Princess Walton, Coordinator

Diane Williamson, Federal Programs