By Ellen Collins and Gregory Taylor

Mississippi is a state that has historically faced severe economic challenges, as well as high rates of poverty, dropouts, and illiteracy. Efforts though to bring community partners together have gained traction to create a system of quality education for young children.

Community, state and national leaders saw the need for action to improve the state’s ability to compete economically, to enhance the quality of life for its children and families, and to increase opportunities for all Mississippi children to achieve success. With the support of business, philanthropic, community and education leaders, many child care programs and preschools are receiving help to increase quality early childhood education.

Mississippi has adopted a quality rating system to promote quality improvements and business leaders have backed an early childhood education demonstration model that aims to improve the quality and delivery of services to children in early learning settings. At the same time, coalitions and calls for early education innovation and investments that will benefit young children across the state continue to grow.
Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) Mississippi has helped to lay a foundation from which an early learning system in Mississippi can evolve. This system includes multiple strategies and service components that ensure children’s health care needs are addressed, parents are supported in their efforts to provide nurturing and stable home environments, and that early care and education settings provide high-quality learning experiences while working with schools to develop effective transition plans.

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