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With Richard Asinof, ConvergenceRI – by By Angela Bannerman Ankoma
Early childhood services were there for my family when we needed them most.
can change quickly and in unexpected [and wonderful] ways. In 2014, I
had three children in school and no plans of having another when my life
was altered by a phone call. My neighbor, who had recently been
arrested and who I didn’t know very well, was in jail and pregnant.
Would I take her baby?
We wrestled with the decision as a family.
We live in an intergenerational household with my husband, mom, and
sisters in Providence. Ultimately, we said: “We’ll do it together.”
My son, Ezekiel, is now five years old and thriving. However, the road to today wasn’t always easy. I had no idea how much we’d rely on the ages 0-5 development and education services offered by our state.
had been years since I’d thought about childcare. Fortunately, Rhode
Island’s Family Visiting Services – who meet with pregnant women and
families with children up to age four and connect them to support
services and resources – worked with me to find a high-quality child
care provider that was also close to home.
This support was so
important. Research shows that young brains are 90 percent developed by
the age of 5. High-quality early education provides significant boosts
in emotional skills and gains in 3rd-grade reading proficiency – one of
the most important predictors of high school graduation. We needed to
lay the foundation for Ezekiel’s future success now.
enrolled Ezekiel at Beautiful Beginnings Childcare Center. It was a
safe, stabilizing, and stimulating environment for him from day one.
Saturdays, I took Ezekiel to visit his biological mother at the ACI.
She was released when he was 22 months old into a program called
SSTARBIRTH, a long-term, residential substance abuse treatment program
for pregnant, postpartum, and parenting women in Rhode Island. They have
childcare on-site, and she wanted to be reunited with Ezekiel.
a couple of months, they moved into the mother-child reunification
program at Amos House, which is a wonderful program but does not have
Turmoil, change and stabilityDuring
this time of turmoil and change, I could see that Ezekiel missed and
needed the stability and love of Beautiful Beginnings. So, I helped his
birth mother contact Rhode Island’s Childcare Assistance Program [CCAP],
which subsidizes childcare costs for low-income families. Not
surprisingly, Beautiful Beginnings opened their doors and welcomed him
With so many things changing – between families and living
situations – Beautiful Beginnings was a welcome constant in Ezekiel’s
After a couple of months, Ezekiel’s birth mother decided it
was best for him and her to proceed with an open adoption. DCYF helped
us finalize the process and we adopted him in 2017.
Investing in the future of childrenBeautiful
Beginnings became a Rhode Island pre-K site, thanks in part to Gov.
Raimondo’s unwavering commitment to expanding publicly funded,
high-quality, pre-kindergarten. Ezekiel remained in his safe, familiar
and high-quality early childhood space, while taking full advantage of
everything that quality pre-kindergarten offers, which is a lot.
who go to high-quality preschool are more likely to: perform better on
reading and math assessments; graduate high school; four times more
likely to get a bachelors degree or higher; more likely to get and keep a
good job; and have better health outcomes.
It’s also a smart
investment. Research shows that a $1 investment in pre-K returns
anywhere from $2 to $17. I don’t know of any other investment more
fool-proof than that.
Every Rhode Island family is different.
Nevertheless, every single one can benefit from these ages 0-5 services.
In my son’s five years, I can see how all the supports impacted our
family. My hope is that more families will take advantage of these
services, particularly high-quality Rhode Island pre-K. They’re great
for families, kids, and Rhode Island’s future.
Angela Bannerman Ankoma is Executive Vice President, Director of Community Investment, at United Way Rhode Island.
Photo: Angela Bannerman Ankoma, executive vice president of United Way of Rhode Island, shared his personal story on the importance of investing in childcare and early education. United Way photo
Richard Asinof is the founder and editor of ConvergenceRI, an online subscription newsletter offering news and analysis at the convergence of health, science, technology and innovation in Rhode Island.
Full story, here: http://newsletter.convergenceri.com/stories/beautiful-beginnings-happy-endings,5520