The Dolly Parton Imagination Library began in 2008. “[The Imagination Library] is a way for children to develop their love for reading” explained Tara Panasewicz, Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Kenosha County. This program provides free, age appropriate books to be mailed to a child within a qualifying zip code monthly. In addition, the United Way also offers programs, like book clubs, to coincide with the Imagination Library.
Panasewicz shares that since 2008 more than 915,000 children have taken part in the national program. According to the United Way of Kenosha County, studies have found that “children participating in this program for two or more years are 30% more likely to be ready for Kindergarten than those not participating.”
Panasewicz beamed regarding the United Way, “we fight for health, education and financial stability of every person in our community.” Seeing that this program is of deep value, the United Way of Kenosha County is committed to bringing it to Kenosha.
A pilot for western Kenosha is being planned, where 1,602 children may be eligible according to the Census. After the initial pilot, they plan to expand the program across Kenosha County.
The United Way of Kenosha County has estimated that the annual child program cost will be $30 for every child enrolled. Due to this cost, they are seeking financial sponsors to help bring this program to Kenosha. If you are interested in learning more about the Imagination Library or becoming a financial sponsor, please contact Tara Panasewicz the Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Kenosha County, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How You Can Help
Anyone can help provide valuable reading opportunities to Kenosha County’s youth. Consider doing so by:
YoungStar is a seven year old early care and education program run by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. As part of its focus on continuous improvement, it offers ratings and support for child care centers as they work to improve the quality of care they give children.
“[Youngstar] values educated and well trained staff, enriching learning experiences, professional business practices and safe, healthy, and nurturing environments," according to the YoungStar website. Providers that participate in Youngstar can receive technical consultation from early care and education professionals to help them grow quality and improve practices.
In addition to providing child care center ratings, YoungStar’s website provides a variety of parent focused resources such as videos and activities to support their child’s growth and development outside of the classroom.
In 2000, the University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty found that quality and affordable child care can have a positive impact beyond families and children by decreasing crime, giving employers and more focused workforce, and expanding the tax base by allowing more people to work.
In Kenosha County 94 out of the 113 child care centers are YoungStar rated. Building Our Future Smart Beginnings believes YoungStar is an important program for the county because it provides a framework for assessing what higher quality child care in Kenosha County should include and ensures children are getting the best possible care.
How You Can Get Involved
Kenosha County’s children deserve the best child care so they too can thrive. Here are a few ways you can help Kenosha County’s children succeed:
Article written by Marley Uran
University of Wisconsin Parkside
Published by the Kenosha News