Save the Children Hosts U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Early Learning Tour and Town Hall in Rural Kentucky

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky., Nov. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined Save the Children Senior Vice President Mark Shriver to meet with families benefitting from successful early learning programs in rural Kentucky on Friday.

Duncan and Shriver visited the home of a Whitley County family in Save the Children's Early Steps to School Success program, which includes a home visiting program for families with children ages 0-3.  They then joined local and state leaders for an early learning town hall at Pleasant View Elementary School in Williamsburg.

"What's happening right here in Whitley County can serve as a national model for expanding access to early education for all children," said Mark Shriver, Save the Children's Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiative. 

"We know that introducing quality learning opportunities early gives children the best chance to enter school ready to succeed.  Here we are in a resource-challenged part of the country where the state and the county have recognized these investments are going to pay off, and they're making it happen.  That bodes well for the future of the children here and their community," he said.

Friday's town hall included endorsements for investing in early education from participating leaders: Senator Robert Stivers (R-25), President, Kentucky State Senate; Jack Conway, Attorney General, State of Kentucky; Regina Bunch (R-82), State Delegate, Kentucky House of Representatives; Delmar Mahan, Board Member, Whitley County Schools  and member, Prichard Committee Business Leaders for a Strong Start and Kenneth Carr, Pastor, Wolf Creek Baptist Church.

Save Children serves 12,500 children in Kentucky with a focus on developing literacy and the skills to succeed in school and life.  Most children in the agency's programs live in rural poverty and face other significant challenges including family unemployment and isolation from services and transportation.

Research has shown that low-income children are likely to be 18 months developmentally behind their better off peers by age 4.  That means they enter school already behind, facing great obstacles to catch up. 

Save the Children's Early Steps to School Success program works with families on reading to their children from the very beginning of life, introducing them to activities that will bolster their children's development, and connecting them to local preschool opportunities. 

As a result 80 percent of children in the program nationally are at or above average in language development by age 3.  In Kentucky that figure is even higher, at 86 percent.

Unlike many parts of the country, Whitley County offers free, public preschool available to all 4-year-olds, which President Obama has proposed nationally.  The proposal also includes expanding voluntary home visiting to the most vulnerable children through programs such as the one run by Save the Children.

More information at www.savethechildren.org/early

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Media Contact: Tanya Weinberg
tweinberg@savechildren.org 
202-640-6647 (o) 202-247-6610 (m)

Image with caption: "Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (right), joins Save the Children's Senior Vice President Mark Shriver to visit a Whitley County family in Save the Children's Early Steps to School Success program. Also pictured, Save the Children home visitor Martha Paul who works with the family: Holly and Chris and their daughter Lelia, 20 months old." Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131101/MM09255-a

Image with caption: "Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (with mic) at an early learning town hall at Pleasant View Elementary School In Williamsburg, KY. He is flanked by Save the Children Senior Vice President Mark Shriver (left) and Senator Robert Stivers (R-25), President of the Kentucky State Senate (right)." Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131101/MM09255-b

SOURCE Save the Children



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