Tuesday, June 11, 2002

United Way starts early childhood program



By Rebecca Billman, rbillman@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A new initiative by the United Way, Cincinnati Community Action Now and area business leaders will examine how Hamilton County helps at-risk, preschool children.

        It's called “Success By 6,” and will focus on the first six years of a child's development, which experts say are the most critical.

        By the time they show up in school, children have already acquired habits that lead to success or failure in education and beyond, United Way President Robert C. Reifsnyder said.

        With that in mind, CAN asked United Way to assemble a coalition to do three things: establish goals, measure the success of existing programs and develop an action agenda.

        The “heavy lifting” will be done by an operations council co-chaired by Wendell Walker, executive director of the West End Health Center, and Sallie E. Westheimer, executive director of 4C, a United Way child care agency.

        The council comprises 41 early childhood experts who will meet twice a month, then report to a steering council.

        The steering council, headed by James M. Zimmerman, chairman and CEO of Federated Department Stores, will meet every other month to draw up the plan of action. They plan to produce it by next spring, when implementation will begin.

        “We don't have any goals as a community,” said Mr. Reifsnyder. “We'll set goals. We'll look at what works. We'll develop an action agenda.”

        United Way is providing initial funding and staffing. The amount and source of added funding will be determined at the beginning of the implementation phase.

        “We really want to come up with a meaningful plan that makes a difference,” said Mr. Walker, who along with Ms. Westheimer is serving as vice chairman of the steering council. “There's a great feel about it.”

       



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