United Way of the Florida Keys received a $23,100 grant from the Ocean Reef Community Foundation for their ‘Success by 6’ program to fund childcare subsidies for low-income preschool students in the Key Largo area.
Although some children in early childcare programs in Monroe County receive Early Learning Coalition subsidy vouchers, the grant aims to assist students whose families earn too much to qualify for these vouchers yet cannot afford to pay full rates for quality childcare. The “Success by 6” funding bridges this gap between tuition costs and ability to pay, especially for low-income families who do not have the resources for any extra expenses.
The average cost for full-time childcare in the Keys is over $600 per month. The “Success by 6” program, funded by the Ocean Reef Community Foundation, allows the United Way of the Florida Keys to offset this cost through a partnership with the Early Learning Coalition by providing childcare stipends to qualifying children from Key Largo families in the school readiness program. For greater impact, the Early Learning Coalition’s Florida Childcare Executive Partnership leverages matching funds from the state of Florida.
Through a state-wide assessment, the basic survival level of income for families is referred to as the “ALICE Threshold” (Asset Limited, Income Constrained but Employed). Nearly 50% of residents in the Keys do not make enough money to reach the ALICE Threshold of affording basic expenses such as rent, food and childcare. This leaves a large portion of Keys families with a pressing need that isn’t fully addressed—access to quality, affordable childcare.
Research states that children who have spent time in high quality child care environments have better math, language and social skills as they enter school, require less special education, progress further in school, have fewer interactions with the justice system, and earn more as adults. Long term goals of the “Success by 6” program include increased high school graduation rates in Monroe County and reduced numbers of children who grow up in poverty and remain in poverty as adults.
Thank you to Ocean Reef Community Foundation for helping UWFK meet this need.