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TECEC Study Examines Childhood Life Quality

April 29, 2010

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2009 McLennan County Childhood Quality of Life Index

Amarie is up getting ready for pre-school on a typical weekday morning, having breakfast, dressing herself, and watching some educational cartoons before leaving. She does all this under the doting eyes of her grandmother, Vicki Calhoun, in their East Waco home right across from the old Paul Quinn Campus. Mari, as she's affectionately called by Calhoun, has lived with her for the past year after her mother, Vicki's daughter, was incarcerated. Luckily for Mari, her grandmother was eager and able to go back to being the parent of a young child.

This is a key time for Mari. Amidst the backdrop of a traumatic family experience, she'll begin kindergarden next year. Once there, she'll be thrust in with children of varying abilities and backgrounds. Her grandma looks for opportunities to teach her about the world around her everytime they go out. She's going to pre-school, where she's introduced to a variety of topics.

She's a little shy talking into a microphone, but is talkative and energetic without the pressure of being recorded. Amarie is enthusiastic about pre-school, and seems eager to get going. But her grandmother is more than enthusiastic to talk about her.

They're best friends adjusting to life together. And Amarie is adjusting to her new situation at the same time she'll be adjusting to the pressures of elementary school. Will she be ready to learn? Is she ahead or behind of her classmates? And will the demands on her and her grandmother adversely affect her future?

They're best friends adjusting to life together. And Amarie is adjusting to her new situation at the same time she'll be adjusting to the pressures of elementary school. Will she be ready to learn? Is she ahead or behind of her classmates? And will the demands on her and her grandmother adversely affect her future?

Ashley Allison is the director of the Waco Foundation. Her organization has been working with area educators, health professionals and experts, the city, the Greater Waco Education Alliance, and other organizations to study the McLennan County Childhood Quality of Life. They commissioned the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition to conduct a thorough investigation. What all that means more simply is this: how conducive is McLennan County towards providing children and their parents the resources they need to make the most of the key develpmental stage from infancy to education, and to ensure that students go to school as ready to learn as possible? Tihara Vargas, director of special projects at the Waco Foundation, says that this early childhood stage is the most fertile ground for investing in the future of the community.

In a nutshell, the quality of life for children in McLennan County is pretty good. But in some zip codes, like South and East Waco, there are troublesome numbers that need to be addressed. In the coming days, we'll look at various aspects of the Early Childhood Quality Index, why certain areas are important, and programs that are built to ensure that children like Amarie don't slip through the cracks. The study is being released through kwbu.org. Just go to www.kwbu.org/childstudy to find the files and old stories regarding the Greater Waco Education Alliance and issues related to children. The study will also be presented tonight at thethe Texas Workforce Solutions' Early Childhood Recognition Banquet at the Roosevelt Ballroom. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.



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