Kids need a stronger start — let’s give them one by expanding access to Preschool and pre-K.
Extensive research supports that Preschool education can substantially increase a child’s chances of thriving in school and in life. Programs teach social skills, through interactions, mentoring and direct teaching—and often can shrink racial education gaps in children’s development. While early care and education can be an unmanageable expense for parents, widely available programs enhance equity to access and opportunity for all young learners. So, let’s take advantage of quality programs and give our kids the best possible start.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL?
Universal Preschool means high-quality Preschool that is publicly funded and available to all families. Programs promote learning and growth, and there are funding mechanisms on federal, state and local levels that are currently available to ensure universal Preschool becomes a reality.
Head Start is America’s first and largest pre-K program, a Federal initiative dating back to 1965 that promotes school readiness in children from birth to age five. Focused mainly on infants, toddlers, and Preschool-aged children of low-income families, Head Start delivers public Preschool and pre-K services to more than a million children every year, in every U.S. state and territory through 1,600 agencies in local communities.
Head Start has been reauthorized and funding expanded over many years, and the current administration has provided additional funding for pre-K and early childhood education in its domestic agenda. This federal-state partnership offers states funds to expand public Preschool programs to reach nearly six million kids not currently enrolled in Preschool. That would be a great start.
“The highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through age five, in disadvantaged families.”
—James J. Heckman, Nobel Memorial Prize winner in Economics
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH PRE-K IN MARYLAND?
Head Start manages more than 20 programs and partners with other non-profit organizations, schools, and community action agencies in Maryland. There are many other Preschool programs in the state, as well, including two provided by The Children’s Guild in College Park and Annapolis.
Currently, free pre-K is only available to 4-year-olds from low-income families, but it’s working. Three of the four counties that offer universal pre-K—Somerset, Garrett and Kent—ranked in the top 10 of children’s readiness for kindergarten yet are also some of the poorer counties in the state.
Increasing access to affordable, high-quality pre-K statewide was a key focus of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission, which analyzed Maryland public schools and areas that need improvement. They recommend phasing in full-day pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-olds statewide.
PRE-K DONE “THE MONARCH WAY”
Monarch Preschool College Park is a high-quality, project‑based learning pre-K program of The Children’s Guild.
Preschool Director Krissie Taylor says Monarch Preschool plays an important role on the city of College Park’s economic revitalization. “We have a unique opportunity to support the city with programs that parents want and in which our children can be successful. We offer a warm and welcoming place where students learn how to make sense of their world. Delivering Preschool experiences is important for attracting parents to move and stay in our city and contribute to our community.”
Chief Education Officer Kathy Lane says high-quality programs are a key aspect of pre-K. “Increasing access to quality programs requires proven education curriculums and best practices. It’s a huge priority for us. We know all kids want to learn, so we implement project-based learning to feed their natural passion, offering learning experiences as expeditions into the unknown.
Over and over, we’ve seen our pre-K programs form strong relationships between students and teachers which draw on the power of small groups, create exploratory mindsets, and help kids understand their community.”
After success in College Park and recognized demand in other areas of Maryland, The Children’s Guild expanded pre-K services to their Monarch Academy Annapolis, targeting low-income families, English Language Learners, and children with special education needs/IEPs (Individualized Education Plan). The program is fully funded by MSDE. PreK Grants are funding the program at MAA.
DOES PRE-K WORK?
A recent comprehensive Brookings Institution study of Preschool programs found that not only do they provide an advantage for kids, they also offer encouraging long-term results and economic benefits. Researchers specifically asked whether publicly funded Preschool is worth the investment from taxpayers. Looking at Head Start programs they found:
- Preschool children ages 3 to 5 were significantly more likely to earn a four-year college degree later in life.
- After three years in a program, kids were 3% more likely to finish high school, 8.5% more likely to attend college, and 39% more likely to finish college.
- Attendees were more likely to work and have professional jobs later in life.
- Female students were 32% less likely to live in poverty as adults, and male students saw a 42% decrease in receiving public assistance.
- Later in adulthood, attendees were 5% more likely to be employed, work 8.7% more hours per week, and 27% less likely to receive public assistance.
As the study publication summarizes, “…even the nascent, underfunded Head Start programs of the 1960s delivered sizable benefits.”
Several other studies in Massachusetts, Tennessee and other areas saw outsized effects of providing a Preschool education, and provide a strong case for universal pre-K.
From a recent National Public Radio story: “…there’s growing evidence that Preschool can permanently improve kids’ lives — but it’s not necessarily because it makes them smarter. It seems more related to making them more disciplined and motivated, which is just as important (or perhaps even more important) for their future livelihoods as how well they perform on reading or math tests.”
LET’S GIVE ALL KIDS EVERY EARLY ADVANTAGE THAT WE CAN
A parent’s desire to give their child every opportunity available is universal. By offering high-quality and meaningful pre-K programs, The Children’s Guild and many other organizations provide proven benefits and touch children’s lives in highly impactful ways. Please support universal pre-K!
The Children’s Guild seeks partnerships and growth opportunities of all kinds. Should you want to learn more or see the work they do in area schools, please contact them anytime at 410.444.3800.
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8th Grader also Recognized as Outstanding Student
GLEN BURNIE, MD, June 11, 2022 – Kim Jakovics, Principal for Monarch Academy Glen Burnie, has been recognized by the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools with the Leader of the Year Award, and was also recognized yesterday by the Capital Gazette, Capital Style Magazine’s Best of Anne Arundel County Reader’s Choice Award with a similar honor. Kim has truly made a difference in so many of her students’ lives as principal of the school. Zaikiyah (Z) Weddington, who is in 8th grade at the Monarch Academy, was also honored as an Outstanding 8th Grader for being a role model and leader.
“We are so proud of Kim Jakovics and Zaikiyah Weddington for being recognized by these prestigious organizations for the values we live by at The Children’s Guild and Monarch Academy Glen Burnie,” said Jenny Livelli, President and CEO of The Children’s Guild, which operates Monarch Academy Glen Burnie as well as two other charter schools in Anne Arundel County and one in Washington, DC. “The mission of Monarch Academy Glen Burnie is to consciously create a safe, respectful and inclusive school community that educates, elevates and empowers ALL voices through authentic and equitable experiences. Kim leads that mission and Z is a wonderful example of the impact we have on our students.”
The Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools awarded Zaikiyah (Z) Weddington with the Outstanding 8th Graders Award. One way Z showcased her leadership skills was during Black History Month. After realizing that there are typically a few historic figures students focus on, she collaborated with her teachers to craft a learning module to emphasize dozens of voices of African American Leaders. Under her guidance, all 8th grade students engaged in collaborative research and designed a puzzle-piece artistic display to share details from their chosen leader’s life and story.
According to John Paul Bennett, 8th Grade Humanities teacher, Z is a role model and leader in the school and has demonstrated consistent and significant academic progress while overcoming personal obstacles. Z’s impact on the school through this project is a perfect example of the way that Monarch Academy students can act as leaders of their own learning and impact the community around them.
“I have had a wonderful experience being a student at Monarch Academy, they have truly prepared me as I graduate and go on to high school,” said Z. “I’m honored that my teachers and peers see me as a role model and leader, I truly never felt that way at other schools and I have much more confidence now that my voice can be heard.”
In addition to Z’s Award, Kim Jakovics received the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools Leader of the Year Award and the Capital Gazette, Capital Style Magazine’s Best of Anne Arundel County Reader’s Choice Award. Kim joined Monarch Academy Glen Burnie as principal in 2018 and has led the staff to put the child first with every decision the leaders and teachers make.
Throughout her career Kim has created a dynamic learning community that extends beyond the classroom. Kim supports learning experiences that give students opportunities to be active participants in their education. One such example is a recent 5th grade environmental literacy program where students were working on a biodiversity study at the school and at a nearby waterfront. They conducted a survey, made a plan, worked with the Department of Natural Resources and received a grant to continue the work. This is a great example of the way Kim supports the teachers as they engage students in their learning.
“Our school promotes high achievement, character growth and teamwork through a focus on arts and technology, culture and character, and leadership and school improvement,” said Kim Jakovics. “It is my honor to instill these characteristics into our students and I am humbled to represent the wonderful work our entire staff does and be recognized as the leader of the school.”
Monarch Academy Glen Burnie, founded in 2009, is a tuition-free, publicly funded charter school open to kindergarten through eighth grade students in Anne Arundel County regardless of testing or screening. For more information, click here. For the full virtual tour of the school click on the video on the home page.
The Monarch Academy Glen Burnie is part of The Children’s Guild, a nonprofit organization serving children, families and child-serving organizations since 1953. The Children’s Guild programs are guided by Transformation Education, an organizational philosophy that fosters a culture of flexibility. This culture creates management and staff who are agile thinkers. This assures children are treated as individuals and taught the way they learn best.
Affiliates of The Children’s Guild include The Children’s Guild, Inc., Baltimore Campus, The Children’s Guild DC Public Charter School, The Children’s Guild – Prince George Campus, Monarch Academy Glen Burnie, Monarch Academy Global – Laurel, Monarch Academy Annapolis, The Outpatient Mental Health Clinic, Treatment Foster Care, The Children’s Guild- Transformation Academy, Monarch Preschool College Park, TranZed Academy for Working Students (TAWS), and TranZed Apprenticeships. For more information, visit https://childrensguild.org/.
The firsts we achieved, the service we undertook, the recognition we earned, and the funds we raised to better serve communities made 2021 a year to remember for The Children’s Guild. Join us to reflect on an inspiring year by checking out our 2021 Annual Report.
The new look and feel of the Annual Report helps to better demonstrate the exciting things happening in The Children’s Guild. The successes we experienced in 2021 are celebrated by our participating families and communities, and our talented and highly trained staff across all our schools and programs. And they’re made possible by the generous support from our donors and board of directors.
This presentation shares some of the amazing stories from 2021, including the opening of Transformation Academy, the expanded services offered by many of our schools and programs, The Children’s Guild, Inc., Baltimore Campus’ success in statewide competition, and many other stories. Also included in this report is an overview of our 2021 financials.
During this past year, we have grown and expanded our influence and impact. The Children’s Guild will continue to provide individualized transformational experiences that help ensure children, families, and their communities thrive. 2021 put us a step closer to achieving our vision: generations of curious and courageous children, healthy families, and thriving communities. The impact that The Children’s Guild made in 2021 will continue to move us to do big things for those we serve in 2022.
Experience the 2021 Annual Report presentation today!
Contributed by Jillian Szczepaniak-Gillece, Director of Behavioral Health Services, The Children’s Guild
Young people in our country have real mental health issues today, and it was a serious problem before the pandemic, virtual school, and recent world conflicts.
“Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide—and rates have increased over the past decade.”
NUMBERS TELL A STARK STORY:
- In 2019, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the U.S. having a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder.
- From 2009 to 2019, high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, to more than 1 in 3 students.
- Suicidal behaviors among high school students increased during the last decade, with 19% seriously considering attempting suicide, a 36% increase from 2009 to 2019, and about 16% having made a suicide plan in the prior year, a 44% increase from 2009 to 2019.
- Between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among ages 10-24 increased by 57%.
(Source: US Department of Health & Human Services)
It bears repeating—this was before recent events. In fall 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association joined to declare a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health.
But how do you go about meeting the problems and working toward solutions? The Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health outlines a series of recommendations and they rely heavily on empowering youth and families, ensuring access to mental health care, supporting education, community and childcare settings, and expanding the early childhood and education workforce.
ON THE FRONT LINES WITH KIDS
“We are completely in support of the Surgeon General’s goals, as they align with our priorities, as well,” said The Children’s Guild President and CEO Jenny Livelli.
It’s critical to have services available to meet kids where they are, whether a clinic- or school-based program. The Children’s Guild operates seven schools in Maryland and the District of Columbia that all provide free mental health services to students. An Outpatient Mental Health Clinic serves more than 80 additional public schools across Maryland. Clinicians specialize in working with children and families and are trained in trauma-informed treatment.
“By being right in the school for kids, we are reducing barriers to access,” says Jillian Szczepaniak-Gillece, Children’s Guild Director of Behavioral Health Services. “We want to help each young person and their family learn skills to address interpersonal, social, emotional, and academic challenges. We work with caregivers, families, school staff, and other involved agencies to provide individualized treatment that is strength-based, trauma-informed, and evidence-based.”
MEETING THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN, FAMILIES, AND COMMUNITIES
One key to improving mental health is making support accessible. So, The Children’s Guild services include psychiatric services, counseling, and school-based behavioral health. More than 1,400 children are positively impacted by their programs and services today.
Mental health conditions can be shaped by many factors. Genes and brain chemistry play a role. So does environment, such as life experiences and neighborhood conditions. Relationships with family and friends are important. There are also many social forces. Young people see messages daily through social media and popular culture that erode their feelings of self-worth. To face these challenges and others, The Children’s Guild offers a continuum of care founded in Transformation Education.
A PIONEERING FORCE IN EDUCATION
Transformation Education engages every student, fosters achievement, growth, and independence to the greatest extent possible, and gives experiences that meet the needs of every learner and help them thrive.
The 8 Pillars of The Children’s Guild Transformation Education philosophy include:
- Value-Infused Culture – blending specific values throughout all aspects of our people, systems, environment, and curriculum.
- Focus on Well-Being – mindfulness exercise, positive relationships with adults, and the development of self-regulation strategies.
- Enriched Environments & Experiences – using physical environments to stimulate the intellect, excite the senses, and touch the emotions.
- Brain Literacy – teaching students how the brain learns.
- Behavioral Motivation Continuum – individualized, meaningful learning experiences before, during, and after behavioral incidents to help kids develop self-regulation.
- Arts Enhancement – opportunities to experience performing arts, visual arts, and music.
- Community Influence – introducing kids to community projects and advocacy so they can contribute their voice.
- Ownership Mindset – skills to approach problems, recognize contributions, take responsibility, and implement solutions.
ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE CHILDREN’S GUILD ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Emerging from April’s School Counseling Month—as well as the past two years of COVID—it’s apparent the national focus on mental health is even more critical. “We need to build the foundation for healthier, more fulfilled, and more resilient youth, and The Children’s Guild is making that happen in the greater metro area around the Nation’s Capital,” said Livelli.
“We touch families and lives in meaningful, often highly impactful ways. That commitment has become even more critical in our complex world.”
The Children’s Guild also seeks partnerships and growth opportunities of all kinds. Should you want to learn more or see the work they do in area schools, please contact them anytime at 410.444.3800.
Over the past six months, the Children’s Guild— Transformation Academy has become a thriving environment for dozens of students ages 5-21 whose primary diagnosis is autism, and many who have co-existing diagnoses of sensory processing disorder, a specific learning disability, health impairment or multiple disabilities. During the month of April, which is officially Autism Awareness Month, The Children’s Guild— Transformation Academy will highlight the integrated approach they take in educating and providing individualized instruction in the areas of academics, behavior, social skills, and life skills to meet the needs of neurodiverse individuals.
“We identified a need in our community and since we opened the Transformation Academy just six months ago, we have been able to provide skills and support to students and their families across a variety of settings including home, workplace, and community,” said Mark Rapaport, Managing Director of Autism Services, The Children’s Guild— Transformation Academy. “We provide programming to foster growth and independence for each student utilizing a collaborative team approach of highly trained professionals, including special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, behavior specialists, transition coordinators, and therapeutic behavior aides.”
For students with a severe autism diagnosis, the Transformation Academy works with local school systems to find a supportive placement. During the month of April, The Children’s Guild— Transformation Academy is open for tours with faculty for families to talk to the experts to learn about the wraparound services provided and how to advocate for a child with their educational team. For information visit https://childrensguildschools.org/transformation-academy/.
The Transformation Academy is part of The Children’s Guild, whose mission is to provide individualized transformational experiences to ensure children, families, and communities thrive. The non-profit organization envisions generations of curious and courageous children, healthy families, and thriving communities. Schools and programs include The Children’s Guild DC Public Charter School, Baltimore Campus, and Prince George’s County Campus; The Monarch Academy public charter and contract schools with campuses’ in Annapolis, Glen Burnie, and Laurel; Monarch Preschool College Park; Outpatient Mental Health Clinic, Treatment Foster Care, TranZed Academy for Working Students (TAWS), and TranZed Apprenticeships. For more information, visit https://childrensguild.org/.
The Children’s Guild (TCG), a nonprofit organization serving children, families, and child-serving organizations, is proud to welcome Agnes Kibirige as the new Chief Information Officer and Hughes Johnson as the new Chief of Staff to their senior leadership team. In her new role, Agnes Kibirige will drive quality IT services and allow TCG to utilize data in the strategic nature that will become the cornerstone of how the organization operates. As Chief of Staff, Hughes Johnson will create and monitor quality systems and procedures to help TCG be effective and efficient in achieving the organization’s mission and vision.
“It is with great excitement and pleasure, I welcome two new exceptional leaders to the Senior Leadership Team of The Children’s Guild who will both be essential in driving our organization into the future, and an integral part of the new strategic plan and vision set forth by The Children’s Guild Board of Directors emphasizing effective, efficient, and quality operations across all TCG service areas,” says Jenny Livelli, president, and CEO of The Children’s Guild. “Agnes and Hughes were selected based on their expertise in areas that we have identified as critical to developing, enhancing, and delivering the services we provide for the children, families, and communities we serve.”
Hughes Johnson brings experience in training, compliance, and a clear focus on developing and measuring quality systems that will immediately impact the Guild. Hughes’s expertise will positively impact The Children’s Guild operations as Chief of Staff as he focuses on creating and supporting quality operations across the entire organization.
Hughes comes to The Children’s Guild following a 30-year career at Youth Villages, a non-profit organization providing treatment programs for troubled youth in Memphis, Tennessee. He completed a tenure that included several impactful roles. In addition to serving as the Managing Director of Compliance and Performance Improvement, Hughes has held several other positions at Youth Villages, including Assistant Director of PI and Interim Director of Memphis Boys Town, a residential treatment program. Hughes also served as a Recreation Therapy Supervisor, where he planned and
facilitated experiential learning for young people with conduct disorder problems, sex offenders, and mentally challenged children. Hughes holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from The University of Tennessee at Martin and a Master of Science, Recreation Therapy from Memphis State University.
Agnes Kibirige comes to The Children’s Guild with a range of professional experiences that will be vital in shaping the organization’s direction. With over 20 years of experience designing, developing, and delivering IT solutions for fortune 500 clients, Agnes mixes her knowledge of technology with a unique understanding of how it all fits on an individual human level.
Agnes’s prior experience includes a 14-year career at Accenture (a Fortune Global 500 company specializing in information technology services and consulting), culminating in her position as a senior manager. In October 2019, Agnes founded ExperTribe LLC, which allowed her to bring expertise to a broader range of clients, including the world of non-profits. Through this new endeavor, Agnes first became connected to The Children’s Guild and was immediately impressed by the importance of the work taking place in the organization.
In her role as Chief Information Officer, Agnes will be implementing a plan of action that directly connects to and supports the transformation of the Guild information technology team to a strategic department where accessible and shared data will drive the organization’s mission and vision. To achieve the goal of moving to a strategic focus, Agnes and her team will shift to the role of leveraging the expertise needed to address the critical IT needs of the organization. Agnes holds a BS in Engineering from Loughborough University, UK, and an Executive MBA from the University of Maryland.
Affiliates of The Children’s Guild include The Children’s Guild, Inc., Baltimore Campus, The Children’s Guild DC Public Charter School, The Janet and Frank Kelly Autism Center, Monarch Academy public charter and contract schools, The Outpatient Mental Health Center, Treatment Foster Care, The Children’s Guild- Transformation Academy, The Children’s Guild School of Prince George’s County, Monarch Preschool College Park, TranZed Academy for Working Students (TAWS), and TranZed Apprenticeships. For more information, visit https://childrensguild.org/.