Balto. County panel aims to help kids prepare for school

December 18, 2003|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. announced yesterday the formation of a committee to explore how the county can better prepare its youngest children for school.

The move comes in response to studies showing that many of the county's children do not start kindergarten fully prepared.

The committee, which will meet at least once a month and report back to Smith late next year, will study enrichment opportunities for children 3 and younger. It will have about 25 members - one representative for each of several agencies, including the school system and the Health Department.

Smith said he is seeking suggestions from the panel about how to better inform parents about programs available to their children and about how to better educate parents about preparing their children for school. He also wants the committee to identify gaps in resources and find additional state and federal funding.

The idea for the committee came from the county's Local Management Board, which provides resources to family and children.

Roe Davis, executive director of the Local Management Board, noted research showing that much of a child's brain development occurs in the first three years of life.

County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston said he hopes the committee will promote better communication among county agencies. For example, he said, data collected by social service agencies could be useful to the school system.

"It makes sense," Hairston said. "We want our children to come to school ready to learn. We welcome an opportunity to join hands with the county government."

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