Giving the Youngest Children the Best Possible Educational Start
High quality early learning experiences are critical to a child’s long-term development and academic success. The formative birth to five years have lasting consequences not only for each child and their family, but cumulatively for each school, our communities, and our state. As a result, states across the country are discovering the benefits of investing in systems which ensure more children have access to high quality school readiness opportunities. This expansion of the traditional K-12 model has led to a system of early care that begins at birth and connects the family, the school, and the community in order to meet the needs of each child. The ACES Early Childhood Services Department provides a range of birth to kindergarten educational services.
Strengthening School Connections with Families
ACES is committed to strengthening the connection between families, our member districts, and the local early care and education community in our region. At the heart of our work is a belief that building relationships and trust between families, schools, and community agencies will lead to better outcomes for children. Our programs and services build on these dynamics by assisting individuals, early care programs, and communities to meet the standards of excellence set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the CT Department of Education and other quality measures in the field.
Our work is carried out through regional collaboration, which allows us to respond to pressing community needs while maximizing resources. This work is funded by grants, contracts, and fees for service. Currently our work is focused around the following strategic priorities:
Advancing Professional Growth and Development
ACES supports practitioners to acquire the knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary to be successful in the early care and education field. We offer training, individual mentoring, and portfolio support for individuals pursuing the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. We build capacity for quality instruction, supervision, and leadership through a range of service offerings.
Promoting Early Literacy, Language and Communication
ACES works with caregivers and families to advance the development of early language and literacy skills of children. Our work is rooted in the Parent Center model developed at the Stephen August Early Intervention Center by Lois Rho. We also draw on other successful programs to foster early language skills including: Reading Is Fundamental, the Mother/Father-Read series, and the Toni Linder Read, Play & Learn curriculum.
Enhancing Learning Environments for All Children
ACES provides on-site technical assistance for child care providers to create inclusive learning environments for children with varied developmental needs. We promote: effective use of space to meet mobility needs; inclusive teaching practices; and educational processeswhich are consistent with the Connecticut Curriculum & Assessment Frameworks. Our staff also help program supervisors understand the criteria for NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation, create program improvement plans, and navigate the self-study process. Our multi-disciplinary team of consultants is available to address a wide array of professional development, including: classroom management, team building, organizational learning, and creating a culture of shared responsibility for student learning.
Strengthening the Engagement of Families
ACES is currently involved in a number of projects to strengthen the involvement of families in the community-based systems committed to serving their children. This is accomplished by increasing awareness and building trust between families and service providers. Our work is focused on helping families understand how to access and navigate existing systems as well as working with providers to create safe and trusting environments. Our work reaches beyond traditional K-12 settings and involves outreach and education in places like public housing sites, health centers, and libraries.
Facilitating Collaborative Community Responses
ACES currently operates several programs that forge connections between child service providers in and across school districts. We provide the leadership and systems to strengthen community collaboration focused on the long-term health and academic success of children. We facilitate play groups, operate Family Resource Centers, and build community collaborations in an effort to link families to the resources in their community. We also operate an integrated National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited birth to five child care program.
Advocating For Effective Assessment
ACES is committed to understanding how to maximize community resources to best serve children. We actively work with early care and education programs to assess various interventions and apply the data to improve child outcomes. We advocate for connections between local community-based practitioners and those working at the regional and state level on policy, research, and development. We also assist communities and districts in the development of their own assessment and evaluation plans.