Early childhood education is a critical long-term need impacting the economic development of our region. Trident United Way (TUW) and its volunteer leadership recognize and support important contributions to child development, family stability and workforce development made by highly trained child care and early childhood education providers across the Trident region.

They nurture the cognitive, social and physical development of our area’s greatest resource — our children — partnering with parents and caregivers to help all children grow into their full potential.

That begins with literacy-rich homes, early literacy promotion in high quality child care programs and universal 4-K and schools that function as community learning centers for the whole child and the family.

In an effort to ensure that children enter kindergarten ready to succeed, Trident United Way administers Child Care Resource and Referral of the Lowcountry, the first nationally accredited CCR+R in the state. It refers parents to high quality child care, and provides as business development support, technical assistance and certified training for providers of high quality care and early education. Specialized services are available to military families, families with special needs children and after-school programs. For more information, visit tuw.org or call 1-877-227-3454.

TUW is also proud to support community agencies that target school readiness, including the Family Literacy program at MUSC Children’s Health Center, both of the area’s Children’s Advocacy Centers and home visitation programs. Research consistently confirms that high quality early care and education:

• Save taxpayers up to $3,700 per child over the K-12 years (remediation not needed);

• Reduce by nearly 50 percent special education placements through second grade;

• Reduce by up to 33 percent grade repetition through eighth grade;

• Increase property value by up to $13 per dollar invested in pre-K services;

• Save on the cost of crime as much as $11 for every dollar invested;

• Raise test scores throughout the child’s K-12 years and positively impact the area’s graduation rate;

• Increase employment rates and per capita income based on both enhanced educational outcomes for local students and the attraction of highly skilled workers with young children to the area. (Source: the Pew Center on the States).

There is much work to be done to enhance access to high quality child care and early education in our area. Local families need affordable options, more locations providing off-shift care and more access for children with special needs. Local providers need support to meet accreditation standards and pay their workers wages and benefits that reflect their importance and skills. School districts need enhanced funding for pre-K programs and literacy-based education.

Working together, we can advocate meaningfully for growth and policy changes necessary at the state and federal levels to support early childhood education. All of us at Trident United Way hope that you will join us in thanking members of our community who have made caring for children their life’s work, and in so doing, have improved the quality of life for all of us, now and later.

William A. Moody, Jr. Chairman

Community Impact Committee Trident United Way

Rivers Avenue North Charleston