Representative Derek Kilmer shared that the House Appropriations Committee has advanced new federal funding for Early Childhood and Family Support in Grays Harbor.

In a release, Rep. Kilmer said that the funding supports the Save the Children’s Early Childhood and Family Support Project to accelerate academic achievement among the most marginalized children in rural Washington.

Through the funding, it would provide funds for early childhood home visiting programs, parent engagement workshops, home library builds to help build a culture of literacy, and mobile outreach providing nutritious meals to families in need.

“As we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve got to ensure that families across our region have the resources they need to help their children succeed,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m thrilled that the House Appropriations Committee has advanced new federal funding to assist critical programing in Grays Harbor County that will help rural, under-resourced regions with nutrition assistance, early childhood education, and community and parent engagement. It’s a big deal for families across our region. I’ll keep working to get this funding signed into law.”

“There is no better investment we can make for our future than one that benefits our children – quality early childhood education. Rep. Derek Kilmer has shown he greatly values and understands the importance of early learning, and Save the Children is grateful to the Congressman and his team for pursuing federal funding that will support our efforts to accelerate educational achievement for rural Washington’s historically under-resourced communities,” said Amee Barlet, Director of Save the Children’s Washington Programs. “This funding will enable Save the Children to expand our home visiting and kindergarten-readiness programming for the state’s youngest learners, while helping build home libraries for families with little or no access to books. It will also help provide wraparound supports that forge a culture of early learning. This includes parent engagement workshops honoring tribal communities’ traditions and, in partnership with The Moore Wright Group, providing nutritious meals for families who need them most. Children need nourishing food to thrive and be hungry for knowledge.”

Save the Children’s service area in Washington’s Sixth Congressional District includes the villages and towns that are within the Quinault Reservation and neighboring tribes such as the Hoh Tribe in Grays Harbor and Jefferson Counties.

Save the Children is seeking to scale proven programs focused on improving early childhood developmental and learning outcomes, as well as provide nutrition support for families through the distribution of healthy meals.

Specifically, this request would support the operating costs of the Save the Children Early Steps to School Success (ESSS) program, which has been delivered in partnership with the Lake Quinault School District for over a decade.

Kilmer states that ESSS aims to delivers high-quality early childhood development services focusing on kindergarten readiness skills to children ages 0 to 5 and their families. In Washington, ESSS participants are at high risk for falling short of kindergarten readiness standards, yet pre-COVID, 92% of 3-year-olds and 86% of 5-year-olds participating in ESSS scored in the normal range for vocabulary acquisition on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, a key indicator for school readiness. ESSS also aims to reinforce caregivers’ roles as advocates for community-wide efforts that support school readiness and create strong connections between parents and the schools their children will attend.

Save the Children will also partner with tribal leadership and community facilitators to enhance the Positive Indian Parenting (PIP) framework, a parenting curriculum developed by the National Indian Child Welfare Association, by increasing the number of trained facilitators and opportunities for their regular collaboration and reflection, inviting quality guest speakers, and offering project based, hands-on learning (e.g., making cradleboards, storytelling kits, and traditional rattles). To encourage participation in a community setting, Save the Children will offer a meal at each PIP session and upon completion, families will receive a kit of culturally relevant children’s books.

In addition, the community project funding request will support a subgrant to The Moore Wright Group (TMWG) to implement expanded food security programming.

“Food insecurity past the first 1,000 days continues to interrupt a child’s ability to thrive. Save the Children found that hunger and food insecurity detracted from learning even more when schools shuttered during the pandemic. Food insecure children who had received free or reduced-price meals at school lost consistent access to breakfast and lunch. Through Save the Children’s partnership with TMWG, an approved partner through OSPI, a program has been implemented to deliver meals to children, and distribute food and needed non-food items across 21 Washington counties. Of the 218,510 children reached in 2021, 89% were in western Washington. Through this partnership and nutrition grants to school districts, Save the Children has led the collective effort to distribute over 14.5 million meals to Washington children since the start of the pandemic. However, they have seen that, despite the schools reopening, a great backlog of need remains, especially for nutritious, hot meals that could be delivered to families with limited transportation. The proposed community funding project would help to fill that gap with a refurbished kitchen and warehouse space and mobile meal delivery capacity to reach over 3,000 children per month.”

Rep. Kilmer led the effort to secure funding for the project through the House Appropriations Committee’s Community Project Funding process.