The city of Long Beach has partnered with the Mayor's Fund for Education to unveil a plan of action that provides more access to early education for parents and youngsters.

It is called the Early Childhood Education Plan, and city leaders said last Friday, Oct. 5, that they are hoping the educational program will help better prepare youngsters for lifelong learning.

"I believe there is no better investment in a child’s future than an investment in early childhood,” Mayor Robert Garcia said at the unveiling. “This plan will expand our educational and social commitments to our youngest residents, their families, and the professionals who support them so that all children will enter school ready to learn and be positioned for lifelong success."

To help accomplish that, the city has partnered with different programs and organizations to provide young learners with the appropriate resources to meet specific goals. Those goals include providing access to affordable infant services, improving the quality of programs and government systems offered to youngsters from birth to 8 years and creating more accessible environments for city youth.

Families play a critical role in child development, so it makes sense that a primary goal for the plan is to increase resources for pregnant women and families who may be experiencing homelessness. And those efforts lead to increasing access for affordable infant and pre-kindergarten care and education.

“The citywide plan focuses on bringing awareness to the importance of the early years in life and on improving access to early childhood education opportunities for all children in Long Beach,” Kelly Colopy, director of the city's Department of Health and Human Services, said. “More importantly, it is a blueprint for our collective action."

Overall, the goal is to make current learning environments better by promoting and executing lifelong learning that benefits youngsters throughout their schooling — and beyond.

"It's not just about kids," Nick Schultz, executive director at Pacific Gateway — an organization that connects individuals and job seekers to employment opportunities — said during the event's panel discussion. "It's about growing successful people."

The release of the Early Childhood Education Plan comes months after another early education program called ReadyRosie was announced. Also a product of the Long Beach Mayor’s Fund for Education, the districtwide program supports family engagement and universal access to early childhood education through videos that cover a number of topics from language skills to mathematics.

That program brings together home life and school life for youngsters and is a solid example of the learning opportunities leaders are aiming to cultivate in the coming years, according to Christopher Steinhauser, superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District.

"We know from experience that the sooner we can bring children into a high-quality learning environment, the more likely they are to succeed in their later years of schooling and life,” Steinhauser said in a release. "This plan is a big step toward making full equity and access to early childhood programs a reality."

For more information and updates about the Early Childhood Education Plan, go to longbeach.gov/health/services/directory-by-population/early-childhood-education-program or email info@mayorsfundfored.org.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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