"Franklin County's Children: a look at their lives in and out of the classroom"
Challenges outlined in the report are a call to action for central Ohio
Columbus, Ohio – Learn4Life, United Way of Central Ohio's Champion of Children and Community Research Partners released the new report Franklin County's Children: a look at their lives in and out of the classroom. This report details many of the challenges faced by Franklin County's children as they work to succeed in school and graduate.
It outlines the work being done by Champion of Children and the plans that Learn4Life is now setting in motion. The report also represents the beginning of a continuing collaboration between Champion of Children and Learn4Life Columbus -- a collaboration that will include the many partners throughout Franklin County working on behalf of child well-being and academic success.
"Learn4Life is dedicated to creating a cradle-to-career educational support network for our students, and this report shows us exactly where we need to target our efforts to make that network as effective as possible," said Steve Votaw, Executive Director, Learn4Life. "The information in this report is a clear call to action for our community. We are at a tipping point, but I believe if we bring everyone together and work toward common goals we can help students overcome the obstacles to learning they face."
"At United Way our investments in our community are based on concrete research," said Janet E. Jackson, President and CEO, United Way of Central Ohio. "This report gives us a better understanding of the challenges our children face on their path to academic success. It reinforces our belief that we must increase our efforts to achieve our community's Bold Goals in education -- ensuring children are ready for kindergarten and graduate from high school prepared for further learning and careers, and it tells us that we must inspire more people to get involved in order to succeed."
Key obstacles to success listed in the report include:
- Income-related factors such as poverty (one in five school age children live in poverty); food insecurity (31% of children are in households that receive food stamp assistance) and housing instability (annually, about 1,600 children are in families seeking emergency shelter).
- Low birth weight. Franklin County children are more likely to be born at a low birth weight (12.1%) than are babies in Ohio (10.2%) or the United States (8.9%).
- Abuse and neglect. Franklin County has about 2,500 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect each year.
- Early education. The majority of 3- and 4-year-old children (59%) are not enrolled in preschool.
- Drug and tobacco use. Among teenage survey respondents, 14% reported using alcohol each month and 7% reported smoking cigarettes each week.
- School safety. Among teenage survey respondents, 38% reported experiencing bullying or intimidation at school.
- Delinquency. Franklin County youth detention centers have about 2,800 admissions each year.
The report was the topic of a panel discussion at the Champion of Children Signature Event on February 7. The Signature Event program also included a video presentation on effective teaching featuring 2011 Ohio Teacher of the Year Tim Dove, produced by Champion of Children founder and Advisory Committee Chair Linda Kass. The panel was composed of local education experts:
- Tanny Crane, President and CEO, Crane Group
- The Honorable Eric Fingerhut, Vice President, Education and STEM Learning, Battelle
- Dr. David Harrison, President, Columbus State Community College
- Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent, Worthington City Schools
In the wide-ranging discussion, panelists touched on many of the challenges outlined in the report. Tanny Crane talked about the crucial importance of early education, and pointed out that, "only 2% of public education dollars go to early learners." She also talked about the positive impact of Columbus Kids: Ready, Set, Learn, an initiative that provides kindergarten readiness assessments for 2 and a half to 4-year-olds in the Columbus City Schools.
Dr. Thomas Tucker talked about the importance of teachers developing personalized relationships with students, saying, "If you don't capture the hearts of the students you are not going to capture their minds."
Dr. David Harrison highlighted the many assets our community has in education and the potential for improvement by saying, "Columbus has the building blocks in place for meaningful collaboration in education."
Eric Fingerhut summed up the spirit of the panel discussion with his comment, "We have an expectation that all kids can succeed."
The report is available for download at liveunitedcentralohio.org/champion-of-children.
Also, at the Signature Event, Patrick Losinski, Executive Director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, was honored as the 2012 Champion of Children. Losinski joins a distinguished group of local leaders who have been recognized as Champions of Children and have made a deep, far-reaching impact on the lives of children in central Ohio.
This year, Champion of Children also named the first ever Champion of Children Nonprofit Organization. The award went to Action for Children, central Ohio's resource and referral agency for child care and early learning programs and services, for the leadership role the organization and its long-time executive director Diane Bennett have played over its 40-year history in promoting high-quality early education.
Learn4life is a community-wide collaborative of educators, business leaders, colleges and universities, child and family service agencies, faith-based organizations, civic leaders, charitable foundations and public officials. This diverse group has come together to create a new cradle-to-career educational support framework designed to provide central Ohio’s children and students with a pathway to personal and professional success.
Champion of Children encompasses all of United Way of Central Ohio's work in education. Founded in 1923, United Way of Central Ohio is working to advance the common good by focusing on the building blocks of a better life: a quality education that leads to a productive career, enough income to support a family through retirement, good health, and a safe place to live. Together, we can achieve real, lasting improvements in our community. For more information, visit www.liveunitedcentralohio.org.