Why We're Here

Success in Learning-Success in Life

St. Mary’s Child Center Preschool provides the highest quality early childhood experiences that will ensure success in school and build the foundation for life long success for our children.

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St. Mary’s believes that all children have the right to the highest quality early childhood education.  The benefits of the child’s involvement in a high quality program are proven.  It is our intention that all children and families who walk through our doors experience the best educational experience possible.

In consideration of the Declaration of Rights for Indiana’s Young Children (presented by the Indianapolis Reggio Collaborative to Representative John Day and the Indiana State Legislature on December 11, 2009), the community of St. Mary’s believes that:

  • ALL children have the right to be recognized as citizens of our state and deserve a childhood that enables them to develop to their fullest potential.
  • ALL children have the right to a high quality early childhood setting that values the involvement of their families and develops an alliance between school and home.
  • ALL children have the right to high quality health care, nutrition and safe home and school environments.
  • ALL children have the right to adults providing learning environments that respect childhood by providing opportunities for children to construct meaning and strategies by actively pursuing learning experiences that connect thought and action as opposed to being passive recipients of direct transmission of information.
  • ALL children have the right to have access to multiple ways of learning, doing and expression in developmentally appropriate settings that support their limitless potential and possibilities.
  • ALL children have the right to highly qualified educators who are compensated as professionals and are respected by the community.
  • ALL children in Indiana deserve access to public preschool and kindergarten funded by the state.

The Preschool Program at St. Mary’s Child Center has a strong history of serving children who live in poverty.  We live in this mission and give intense focus to this work in consideration of the high stakes involved. Our Board, donors and funders are dedicated to funding the participation of children who live in poverty in the Preschool Program.  The cost per child is $5,000 per year.  One hundred percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced lunch receive substantial assistance.

Research on children living in poverty:

  • One in four children in Indiana live in poverty.
  • Poverty can be devastating to the child’s development.
  • Children in poverty are strong, competent, capable and loved but often lack common experiences because of the stress poverty brings to a family.
  • Studies show that children in poverty are read to only 25 hours before entering first grade (compared to 1400-1700 hours for their middle class peers)
  • Marian Wright Edelman, CEO and Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, tells us that children in poverty enter the “Cradle to Prison” pipeline at the moment of their birth.
  • Children in poverty enter kindergarten 1.5-2 years behind and the gap widens as they progress through school.  The child experiences failure, drops out, often becomes involved with the criminal justice system.  “Achievement gaps develop well before children being Kindergarten.” – US Chamber of Commerce, Institute for a Competitive Workforce

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However…there is compelling evidence that shows that the effects of poverty can be mitigated by the child’s involvement in a high quality early childhood program.  Children who are involved in such programs have higher IQ’s, achievement levels and graduation rates.  They are less likely to be retained, enrolled in special education or incarcerated.  This is why we do our work and why we have a special focus on children living in poverty.

“Investment in early education for disadvantaged children from birth to age 5 helps reduce the achievement gap, reduce the need for special education, increase the likelihood of healthier lifestyles, lower the crime rate and reduce overall social costs.  In fact, every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education produces a 7-10 percent per annum return on investment.  Policies that provide early childhood educational resources to the most disadvantaged children produce greater social and economic equity.  We can create a more level and productive playing field for all by making wise and timely investments in effective education.”  – James Heckman, The Economics of Inequality

The work being done at St. Mary’s Child Center ensures that our children will not enter school with great delays, drop out and be incarcerated.  They will not progress along the “Cradle to Prison” pipeline. The great majority of our children enter kindergarten at a 5 year level in all domains of development.  We expect that our children will be successful in school and successful in life.

Kindergarten Readiness Stats

(St. Mary's tested 178 children before leaving for Kindergarten in 2016)

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“The research is clear.  Early learning opportunities for children from birth to age 5 have great impact on a child’s development and build a strong foundation for learning and success later in life.” -US Chamber of Commerce, Institute for a Competitive Workforce

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St. Mary’s Child Center’s Educational Outreach Program is designed to help the educators that we teach to develop high quality programs in their schools.  We intend, therefore, that the children those educators serve will also experience the amazing life-long outcomes described in the research.

 

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