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County Executive's Office

Dane County Executive Parisi, United Way of Dane County, Rennebohm Foundation, Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Mayor Soglin Announce Partnership to Help Kids on Madison’s Northside

September 26, 2016
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

New Early Childhood Zone Will Help Parents Provide A Stable Learning Environment


Today Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, United Way of Dane County, the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, Madison Mayor Soglin and Madison Metropolitan School District announced a partnership to create a Northside Early Childhood Zone that will help young moms and dads provide a stable learning environment for the next generation.


Early Childhood Zones help kids grow up in healthy, stable, happy homes,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “The zones help parents have the skills and training to provide for their little ones. This increased stability at home will result in increased academic achievement. I am proud to partner on another Zone to help young families set roots for success.”


Zones provide family home visitation services, a research-based method that supports families holistically, and includes support for employment and stable housing, the three critical elements for family stability. The new Zone will also include behavioral health support for family members. From the time newborns are brought home, through their growth and development, and to the point of walking them through the doors on their first day of 4k, the new “Northside Early Childhood Zone” is the highest concentrated, most collaborative effort to date to improve racial and socio-economic achievement gaps in school and in the community.    


Dane County, the City of Madison, and United Way all have financial resources invested in this effort but the Northside Early Childhood Zone wouldn’t be possible without the incredible generosity of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation which has pledged to invest millions of dollars into young families on the north side in the coming years.  


"For the past year the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation has been engaged in a study of the status of resources in our community for children birth to three years old and their families,” Oscar Rennebohm Early Childhood Project Director, Jane Belmore PhD, noted.  "Madison has many high quality resources for families but the study confirms that we do not have enough resources for all families and we don't always reach the families who need the resources the most." As an initial response to this finding, the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation is joining the city of Madison, Dane County, and the United Way of Dane County in establishing this new Early Childhood Zone. With the Northside, Dane County will have 4 Early Childhood Zones joining the successful ones established for the Leopold attendance area, Verona, and Sun Prairie.   


The new zone is being established for the Blackhawk Middle School attendance area on Madison's north side, which encompasses 4 elementary schools:  Mendota, Gompers, Lindberg, and Lake View. Data, along with local successful experience in research-based solutions already in use in the other zones  will be available for all babies and toddlers and their families in this Zone, an area of clear need.  


We’re so grateful for the many partners who are making this new Early Childhood Zone a reality,” said Renee Moe, CEO and president of United Way of Dane County. “Each partner in this collaboration serves a specific role in our community. By coming together to understand the best ways to nurture young children to healthy development, this collaboration demonstrates how we can achieve more together than any one of us can on our own.”


In 2013, former Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Michael Morgan and Dane County Executive Parisi co-chaired an effort spearheaded by the United Way of Dane County to bring the community together to determine the most effective strategies to support children and  their parents, focused on low socio-economic populations.  Research indicates that 30% of the children from these homes will be ready for kindergarten.  The goals of the “Born Learning Delegation” were to address the achievement gap before kids enter school by focusing on their development at home.  “Born Learning” set an ambitious goal:  help 80% of the 4-year olds in our community achieve age-expected development and readiness to learn by the year 2020.


The data driven analysis lead to focusing early childhood development where the need was the greatest in the Leopold Elementary attendance area, Sun Prairie and Verona.  The County, teamed with the United Way to create Early Childhood Zones, wrap-around comprehensive services for families with young children. Based on eligibility for free and reduced lunch, the next area of greatest need for a Childhood Zone was identified as the north side of Madison.  The data shows Mendota Elementary has the highest percentage of low income students in all of Dane County, closely followed by the other north side elementaries.


The brand new Northside Madison Early Childhood Zone brings county and community resources together in the interest of families. Assistance with housing and employment come hand in hand with nurturing young ones.  


The Early Childhood Zone will help children build the important foundation for academic success.   The new Northside Early Childhood Zone” will have three dedicated staff to coordinate home visitation, housing, employment, mental health and other critical services, and will include a dedicated bilingual specialist.  The county’s contribution to this bold new partnership for 2017 is $79,000.

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