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Human Services division gets $1 million grant

By Ashley Nerbovig

This article was published July 10, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education was notified today that it will receive a $1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The grant will be used to strengthen early learning and school readiness standards for young children by funding the redesign of birth-to-five early learning standards and identifying a new kindergarten entry-assessment tool, the department said in a news release.

A team of experts will review Arkansas’ current learning standards and make recommendations on updates and additions. Tonya Williams, director of the Child Care and Early Childhood Education Division, said the assessment will focus on social and emotional skills needed for children entering kindergarten, as well as the physical skills children need to enter school.

“A new assessment should look at more than the cognitive skills of language and logic,” Williams said in the release. “Those are important but so too is the development of fine motor skills, like holding a pencil.”

The grant will also fund research into how to engage parents in their children lives, Williams said. She said she believes parent engagement is critical to a child’s success because the parent is often the child’s first educator.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is connected to the cereal company founded by Will Keith Kellogg and is one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States.

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