The SPARK kindergarten readiness program, which is managed by the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC), has officially been accepted for inclusion in the MCH Innovations Database as a Promising Practice. The database, operated by the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, accepts only those practices that are demonstrated to be effective and grounded in practice-based evidence. Funders and researchers look to the database when searching for programs that positively impact maternal and child health.
SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) is managed and operated by the ECRC, which is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton created the SPARK program in 2003.
SPARK provides a kindergarten readiness advantage for families with three- and four-year-old children. SPARK offers and cultivates those elements that foster school readiness: engaged parents; books, supplies, and educational activities; a caring and skilled parent partner assisting in a culturally relevant, non-threatening manner; individualized learning plans; and early access to special interventions (such as speech therapy) that might otherwise be out of reach.
The SPARK parent and child meet monthly with their specially trained parent partner to engage in a lesson developed around state standards and designed to prepare the child for school. SPARK families receive resources to help them work all month long to strengthen their child’s early literacy, math, problem solving, communication, social-emotional, fine/gross motor, communication, and self-help skills.
To ensure school readiness, the SPARK team (which includes school-based personnel and professionals in early childhood education and mental health) works to address barriers to readiness, long before the child begins school.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton created the SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) program in 2003, in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Today, the program is managed and operated by the Early Childhood Resource Center. SPARK is highly effective: independent evaluation results continue to show that SPARK children significantly outscore non-participating children in the same classrooms on the state-mandated Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, and SPARK children have an advantage through at least the fifth grade. SPARK has served more than 17,000 Ohio children; SPARK programs are serving families in nine Ohio counties.
The Early Childhood Resource Center and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton are ministries of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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