A long history of helping families thrive
Child Care Consortium is Born
In 1998, Heart of Missouri United Way and The City of Columbia made an initial investment in a community childcare initiative called Community Child Care Consortium. The Consortium conducted a comprehensive planning study on child care and early childhood outcomes in Boone County. They used the information to partner with several agencies and develop services to support at-risk children.
Kindergarten Readiness Becomes the Vision
In 2002, the Community Child Care Consortium crafts its vision around kindergarten readiness and organizes into a 501(c)3 nonprofit called Boone Early Childhood Partners. The mission was to coordinate services and build resources to improve school readiness in Boone County. Working with the community, they identified key indicators of kindergarten readiness and conducted a county wide assessment. They found 16% of children entered school without the necessary skills to succeed. The Partners received several federal grants to improve the social and emotional skills of high-risk children using a parent and teacher approach. After several years of implementing the grants, the board shifted the focus to direct services that benefit children who face an increased risk of not succeeding in school.
Direct Services to Support At-Risk Families
In 2006, Boone Early Childhood Partners changes its name to First Chance for Children to reflect its mission of supporting underserved children and families. They receive two federal grants to improve the social, emotional, literacy, and language skills of at-risk children. They also launched a public relations campaign, Read Play Hug, to increase the awareness of the importance of child/caregiver relationships.
Strong Roots With a Bright Future
First Chance for Children has continued to utilize braided funding to support early childhood initiatives. We have expanded into 9 counties across mid-Missouri contracting with school districts and community agencies to provide additional services for at-risk families including cribs and diapers through our CRIBS and Baby Bags diaper bank. We utilize the Parents as Teachers and Nurturing Parenting models of home visitation along with the Strengthening Families Framework to best support families with their specific needs. We advocate at the state and local level for quality early childhood experiences so that all children can be ready for school, ready for life.