Somerville Launches New Early Childhood Website

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Online resource next key step in Somerville’s vision to develop integrated citywide universal kindergarten readiness strategy

Somerville, MA – Somerville families—and families looking to make Somerville their home—now have a new resource at their fingertips with the recent launch of SomervilleHub.org, a website produced by the Somerville Early Education Steering Committee to help connect local families with young children to the full range of information and resources they need to raise healthy, active children from birth to age 8.

“This website is a continuation of our commitment to the whole child. It supports the development of a strong foundation upon which Somerville children and families can build as children develop and prepare for entry into our school system,” stated Superintendent of Schools, Tony Pierantozzi. “The SomervilleHub.org site is an amazing resource that is the result of an intense collaborative effort and a community commitment to our families and the educational success of our youngest residents.”

The website, which launched earlier this week, will continue to grow. But already, SomervilleHub.org offers community-wide information on everything from childcare and school options to programs, activities, social services, family events, and local parks—all in an easy-to-navigate website with a bright, friendly design. The intent is to provide a central hub for the information and resources that parents need, especially in the early childhood years, to help their children develop kindergarten-readiness and then thrive and reach their full potential once enrolled in school. The website is the next key step in Somerville’s efforts to bring its vision of a Universal Kindergarten Readiness System to fruition.

“The city of Somerville continues to lead the way in supporting and engaging families, particularly those with young children, and ensuring that as these students progress through our school system that we are providing key resources and opportunities to strengthen and enhance their access to both educational and social services. This website is another example of our efforts to ensure that every student, and every family, is exposed to a rich curriculum and afforded the same opportunities,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We’re building on our community strengths to create an atmosphere where our students can reach their greatest potential.”

The Somerville Early Education Steering Committee, which spearheaded the website project, is a community coalition focused on alignment of birth to grade 3 programs and services and that includes representatives from the Somerville Public Schools, the City of Somerville SomerPromise program, Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, Capuano Early Childhood Center, Somerville Family Learning Collaborative, Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) Head Start, and Open Center for Children.

The Committee’s work accelerated last year, when the Somerville Public Schools, the City and the School Committee commissioned a comprehensive report on preparing children for kindergarten. That report recommended that rather than pursuing solely school-based universal preschool for 4-year-olds, that the community establish an innovative early childhood system for pre-kindergarteners of all ages via a provider network, which would include Somerville Public Schools, nonprofit and private early childhood care providers and other local agencies working collaboratively to support universal kindergarten readiness.

The report titled SomerReady: Creating a Citywide, Universal Kindergarten Readiness System, calls for collaboration among providers citing Somerville’s already robust early education and care and its readiness to create a coordinated network that supports its bold vision. SomervilleHub.org website is an important step in connecting Somerville’s rich menu of early childhood services and resources with the community and with each other. Other steps called for in the report that are also underway include:

• The Somerville Public Schools hired the District’s first Director of Early Education, Dr. Lisa Kuh, earlier this year to continue coordinating citywide early childhood alignment efforts.
• The Eliot-Pearson Early Childhood Education Programs & Evelyn G. Pitcher Curriculum Resource Lab at Tufts University led a two-day conference this summer, Science in Early Childhood Settings, which brought together early childhood educators from across the city for joint professional development. Funded by a State Race to the Top grant, this joint professional development opportunity was the first of what is anticipated to become an annual activity.
• CAAS Head Start and the Somerville Public Schools are partnering on a full-day pre-K classroom at the Arthur D. Healey School for Head Start-eligible students this year. The class is co-taught by a Somerville Public Schools and a Head Start teacher, and combines best practices from both programs for a comprehensive educational learning experience for students.
• A full-time Early Childhood Coach has been hired by the Somerville Public Schools through continuing Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant funding, to expand coaching work with early childhood providers across the City.

The Somerville Early Education Steering Committee has led these efforts, thanks to a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). Additional funding support for SomervilleHub.org was provided by the City of Somerville via the SomerPromise program.

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