Waterford UPSTART Launches No-Cost Summer Learning Program to Support Families

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Summer learning loss is always an issue on the minds of educators as the school year ends. But this year, teachers have an even stronger cause for concern. As COVID-19 causes schools to indefinitely rely on distance learning, some families are left without the needed in-person support and guidance for their child’s education.

“Because of the COVID-19 situation,” says Kim Fischer, Waterford.org spokesperson, in an interview with KRPC2 News, “we know that there’s gonna be kids who have been out of school four to six months, and that’s a really long time to not get any form of education.”

Many schools are also functioning on limited budgets during this crisis and may not have as many summer learning options. And as families and in-person preschool centers face financial emergencies or are otherwise displaced by the pandemic, children—particularly those from at-risk communities—are left with fewer resources to gain the skills they’ll need to thrive when they start school. This could potentially put them at a disadvantage beyond their first year of school and well into their academic career.

David Lawrence Jr., Chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, describes this concern in dire terms: “A ‘COVID slide’ in which children could miss out on formal school for up to six months could look more like a ‘COVID cliff.’ ”

He continues with a call to action for those invested in early education: “We shouldn’t let that happen.”

At Waterford.org, we share these concerns, and we’re invested in keeping children learning. To that end, our new Summer Learning Path is available for preschool-aged children who live in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, or Texas.

This new program includes the same reading, math, and social-emotional learning curriculum as previous implementations of Waterford UPSTART for the duration of summer, and at no cost to participating families. Additionally, the program provides technological resources for families with demonstrated need to complete the program.

In all, the Waterford UPSTART Summer Learning Path includes:

  • Adaptive and award-winning school readiness curriculum
  • Personal support from Waterford UPSTART coaches
  • A computer and internet access for qualifying families

The Waterford UPSTART program has been proven to help preschool children develop school readiness skills that last well into their elementary years. According to Melissa Staples, whose son Frederick graduated from the program, Waterford UPSTART successfully prepared her child for a strong academic start.

“[Waterford UPSTART] got him ready for kindergarten,” Staples said. “Actually, when he graduated, he was on a first-grade level.”

Through a partnership with The Children’s Movement of Florida, more than 3,000 children in that state will be able to prepare for the upcoming school year through the Summer Learning Path. In a statement about the partnership, Lawrence calls the program a “great summer solution,” particularly as districts are “scrambling to find meaningful—and age appropriate—home-based learning opportunities for children who cannot attend their preschool or child care center now.”

And as of May 13th, over 650 families had signed up in Texas according to the same article by KRPC2 News. In all, we plan to serve at least 15,000 families between now and August 31, 2020, through our Summer Learning Path.

To make sure families most affected by COVID-19 can benefit from this resource, we are giving priority placement to families at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. That way, the program can reach and support those who have lost income, employment, or federally funded preschool during the crisis.

“Help is on the way for parents who are doing their best but struggling during this stressful time,” says Claudia Miner, executive director and co-founder of Waterford UPSTART, during an interview with WAPT News.

Registration is now open for the Waterford UPSTART Summer Learning Path. The program will begin on June 1 and finish August 31, just in time for the new school year. If you or someone you know has preschool-aged children and have been affected by COVID-19, sign up today and we will process your application as soon as possible.

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