United Way of Whatcom County is supporting a new early learning program for Ferndale schools with a grant of $56,779, according to an announcement from the nonprofit.
The grant will fund the Early Learning Connections pilot program in the Ferndale School District. The program will focus on early literacy activities for preschoolers and will include a parent education component, as well as activities parents and children can do together.
Various assessments will track a child’s progress through the program and will also assess the educational needs parents, children and teachers require.
“Research shows that children who do not experience the kind of strong early literacy development that prepares them to be proficient readers by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who have access to quality early learning,” said Julie Mauermann, who’s leading the project, in a press release. “This creates a double jeopardy for some of our children, because living in poverty increases their likelihood of dropping out of school to six times more than their non-low-income peers.”
The pilot program will be implemented in Central and Mount View elementary schools in Ferndale. Neither school currently has access to traditional preschool programs, according to program directors, and both support students from low-income families or families who speak English as a second language.