LaiEsha Allen and her husband are always looking for extra experiences and resources that will benefit their seven kids ages 17, 15, 12, 8, 6, 6, and 5. They enrolled in Metro United Way’s Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) program that allows parents to track children’s development to help them learn and grow as much as possible during their crucial early years. ASQ includes free books and activities for parent and child to do together with the goal of supporting the parent as their child’s first teacher.
“I have gotten so many resources for my family,” said LaiEsha. “It’s a very long questionnaire, but it has to be because it’s very personalized for my kids’ needs; one of my children has hearing issues and a lot of great information was sent directly to my house about specialists and programs to be part of.”
Last summer is when they were first introduced to the ASQ when they took their youngest children to a summer learning camp at The Beech, a community center in Beecher Terrace Homes in the Russell neighborhood.
“A lot of kids aren’t exposed to good learning experiences, or parents with children living in poverty aren’t aware of kindergarten readiness tools,” said LaiEsha. “I have seen the growth in my kids in just a short period of time.”
Another important element of the ASQ program is the parent networking, facilitated by Metro United Way’s parent outreach in some neighborhoods, where moms and dads, as well as kids gather frequently. A lot of the time it’s a chance to talk about being parents with others that have the same goals for their own kids – other times families can take their kids on field trips to places like the Kentucky Science Center or the Kentucky Museum of Arts & Crafts. Find out more about these networks: Saphhire’s Story: A Trusted Advocate for Single Parents.
LaiEsha says, “It’s a chance for us to unwind and talk as friends we wouldn’t know otherwise while our kids are engaged in fun activities like painting, jewelry making, and story time. These types of moments are important in raising children in healthy environments.”
Research shows that 83% of kids in the ASQ program start school ready to learn which is incredible considering as low as 36% of kids in some targeted neighborhoods are kindergarten ready. And, in those targeted neighborhoods children who needed that extra help and get those early interventions, like LaiEsha’s child, are four times more likely than their peers to improve their general development and social-emotional skills. For LaiEsha’s child, that meant recognizing and helping with a hearing impairment.
This is one example of how Metro United Way fights for the education, financial stability and health of every one in our community and the impact one person can make. Thanks, LaiEsha, for helping us change the odds for kids for generations to come!
Metro United Way leads our community’s Ready for Kindergarten (Ready for K) Alliance partnership of more than 100 partners for aligned strategies to boost improved early educational attainment, with a bold goal that 77% of our region’s children will be prepared for kindergarten by 2020. We know this is important because when children are kindergarten-ready they are more likely to read at grade level which ensures academic success and on-time high school graduation.
For more information about our work in family engagement visit HERE.
The ASQ program is easy and free to gain access to: simply enroll your child in the ASQ program here or download the complete brochure here.