Seattle-Area Project Tackles Rising Suburban Poverty and the Early Education Deficit


One of the most interesting education projects in the nation is in Seattle’s backyard, and The Road Map Project’s latest report presents a stark picture of the need for high-quality child care and preschool among the region’s struggling families.


In South King County, only about a quarter of low-income children are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs, a number that drops to 17 percent if you exclude Seattle, The Road Map Project said today in its 2014 Results Report. Lack of access is probably one of the main reasons the report found only 39 percent of the region’s kindergarten students are ready to start school.


It’s probably only getting worse. Despite a now-healthy economy poverty has been growing in South King County. In Seattle’s suburban cities of Renton and Auburn, poverty jumped approximately 90 percent during the first 10 years of this century, the Road Map Project reported, citing data from the Brookings Institution.


This is the changing face of the poor in America. Entrenched and deep poverty in the nation’s cities, while it still exists, is being outpaced by rising poverty in its suburbs.


The Road Map Project has an ambitious plan to tackle the problem with a comprehensive plan to improve education from infancy through high school in South King County. The project’s overall goal is to double the number of students who are on track to graduate from college or ready for a career by 2020.


In early learning the project is working to increase school readiness, expand full-day kindergarten and improve access to good child care and preschools, while improving quality among providers.


Even though the project is only four years old, it reported today that quality among child care programs is rising. By the end of 2014, half of child care providers in the Road Map Project’s region were in the state’s quality rating and improvement system, Early Achievers, higher than statewide enrollment of 43 percent.

“The data in the 2014 Results Report tell us the South Seattle and South King County area is making progress to better serve our youngest learners, but there much more work to be done. Now is the time to keep working together and accelerate our progress,” Kristin Johnson-Waggoner, communications manager for the Community Center for Education Results, the nonprofit supporting The Road Map Project, wrote in an email.

If you are involved in early education, check out The Road Map Project.



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