Advocates for children in Wilkes County were celebrated during the fourth annual “Champions for Children” luncheon Thursday at the Stone Center in North Wilkesboro.
The crowd of 186 people at the event was the largest ever, said Megan Adams, vice chairman for Wilkes Partnership for Children.
The partnership sponsors the luncheon to honor volunteers, staff, board members, child care teachers, contributors and community partners of the local nonprofit, as well as to raise money for partnership programs.
“Without you the Partnership for Children could not accomplish the work done on behalf of young children and their families,” said Adams.
Jim Faw of Wilkesboro was recognized for his many years of volunteer work with the partnership. “Today, as we honor all our superheroes, who work on behalf of children, we want to take time to honor a man who has dedicated over 24 years to young children in Wilkes County,” said Beverly Hersey, board chairman.
“He was an original board member of Wilkes Community Partnership for Children and has served continuously, giving of time, energy, and money to children and families,” said Hersey.
“Real Men Read,” a pre-kindergarten literacy program and the 35 volunteers with the program were also honored at the luncheon.
Over 300 visits will be made to pre-kindergarten classrooms this year, reaching over 600 children and their families through the “Real Men Read” program. Book distribution will reach an all-time high of 5,800 books, said Susan Cogdill, partnership executive director.
The Real Men Readers visit their assigned pre-kindergarten classroom each month September to May. At the end of each “Real Men Read” sessions, the volunteer presents every child a book to build their own home library and to share with their families, creating a “pre-kindergarten to home” connection.
Quotes from classroom teachers were presented during the luncheon, demonstrating the success of this literacy program. “The impact is immediate and longlasting,” said Cogdill.
She recognized volunteers with the Real Men Readers program attending the luncheon, as well as Brenda Cline and the Kulynych Family Foundation 1, who have been major supporters since it started in 2014.
2016-17 community report
The goal of Wilkes Community Partnership for Children, a local Smart Start agency, is to ensure that young children, birth to five, enter school healthy and ready to succeed, said Cogdill.
Activities and programs focus on family support and literacy, health and child care and are research based.
During 2017, 32 parents attended weekly support group meetings called Circle of Parents while their children, 41, were engaged in enriching learning experiences.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library distributed 16,461 free books in 2017 to 2,528 children each month. Raising a Reader provided literacy workshops for 357 parents and allowed 506 children in participating child cares to take home books each week, encouraging book sharing with their parents. The program promoted daily book sharing in 34 classrooms in 21 child care centers.
Reach Out and Read provided information on early literacy to local parents and provided 2,113 books to 1,756 children during their well child checkup in five medical practice sites.
On average 165 children were provided Child Care Subsidies each month last year and 101 four-year olds were enrolled in pre-k programs, partially funded by the Wilkes Partnership.
Child Care Resource and Referral provided 28 child care facilities with technical assistance and 119 child care providers utilized the resource library/ workshop at the partnership office in West Park, North Wilkesboro. WAGES salary supplements were given to 42 child care professionals.
Behavioral support, a part of the Wilkes Partnership for Children, served 27 classrooms in 14 centers and provided training on the social/emotional development of young children for 71 teachers. Child care health consultants provided health and safety training and/or technical assistance to 95 providers in 30 facilities.
The percentage of children placed in high quality child care (four and five star facilities) increased from 49 percent in 2002 to 78 percent in 2017, according to the partnership community report.
Funding for Wilkes Partnership for Children programs comes primarily from state Smart Start funds, but also grants, private donations and program incomes. Of the total revenue of $1,229,439 last year, state Smart Start funds provided $1,181,105. Grants totaled $18,009; private donations were $26,675 and program income was $1,650.
Forty-seven percent of Wilkes Partnership funding is used for child care subsidy while 30 percent goes for early childhood quality, Twelve percent is used for family support; eight percent for administration and three percent for other.
Major financial contributors are, Duke Endowment, Faith Can Move Mountains, Flettie Alifair Church Literacy Fund, Foundation for the Carolinas, Kulynych Family Foundation I, N.C. Smart Start, N.C. Farm to Child Care Collaborative, N.C. Community Foundation, N.C. State University, Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, Shape NC, the Health Foundation, United Way of Wilkes and Walmart.