Working Together to Prepare for Kindergarten

In 2010, Beyond Housing partnered with community leaders and residents within the Normandy Schools Collaborative to launch the 24:1 Initiative. The name references the 24 local municipalities that comprise the Normandy geographical footprint. Belle Childrens Services of St. Louis Arc was there at the start, sharing a vision of inclusive childcare for ALL children. The objective was to work with United4Children, and other community partners to identify young children in need of extra support prior to entering Kindergarten.

Thanks to a three year grant commitment, the Arcs Early Learning Specialist, Dana Givens, is able to work full-time in a number of Normandy preschools. Dana will soon be working with children, families, and childcare staff in six centers each week. While in the classrooms, Dana is able to assess the learning and development of individual children. Once an assessment is complete, an action plan is developed highlighting individualized goals and teaching strategies to support any areas of concern with a child. Our end goal is to identify and support young children with delays and disabilities within their own neighborhood settings.

The ongoing weekly presence has resulted in strong and valued relationships with families and center staff. While at the centers, Dana is able to provide services and coordinate:

  • Classroom and individual consultation
  • Screenings for children (with parental permission)
  • Professional staff development, including two workshops each year
  • Classroom based observations and recommendations for success
  • Development of individual action plans for each child with an identified concern
  • Program and curriculum development as requested by directors and staff
  • Family support to identify and access resources to address individual family needs
  • Administrative support for the director of each childcare center
  • Assistance with referrals and access to expanded resources as needed

The programs focus of support encompasses the Normandy community as a whole, as well as the individualized support of identified children, their families, and the respective teaching staff. We are proud to be part of the collective impact of the 24:1 Initiative and look forward to making a difference in the next three years.


Kate Hannon
Director, Belle Childrens Services of St. Louis Arc