The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Receives Grant to Help Low-Income Children Prepare for School; Partners with United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania


PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Preschool-age children from low- income families in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania are the beneficiaries of a $1.6 million grant to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The three-year grant will fund Children's Hospital's role in a program known as Early to Learn: Partners in School Readiness.

The initiative resulted when a survey of parents, caregivers and instructors at childcare centers indicated that many childcare settings for low-income children in the region struggle to adequately prepare children for school. Early to Learn: Partners in School Readiness was established to help better prepare preschool children from birth to age five years for kindergarten and elementary school.

Children's Hospital's role in the program includes linking childcare centers with the institution's pediatric resources of clinical and developmental specialists, early intervention services for children with special needs, and assuring proper immunizations for children. The initiative at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will be led by Trude A. Haecker, M.D., Medical Director, Primary Care and Community Health Services and Marsha Gerdes, Ph.D., Program Director for the grant. This exciting project will be administered at Children's Hospital's Primary Care Centers throughout the region.

"Preparing children for school is the responsibility of all those involved in their care," said Dr. Haecker. "The role of a healthcare provider is essential to assure caregivers have correct health information, to identify developmental and health-related issues early so access to specialists can be provided, and to assure children are properly immunized as they enter kindergarten."

Physicians and other healthcare providers are in key positions to measure the developmental readiness of children and to assist parents and caregivers to prepare children for school, added Dr. Haecker. "Closely monitoring the growth, health, and development of children is an excellent measure of their readiness for school," she said. "This initiative is a natural extension of this institution's comprehensive approach to children's health that includes physical growth and well-being as well as behavioral health development and early literacy." Children's Hospital has supported literacy initiatives through the Reach Out and Read program that provides new books for children age six months through age five at every well child visit to a Primary Care Center.

Early to Learn: Partners in School Readiness is supported by $14 million in grant funding to United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Other partners in the initiative include Playschools at the YMCA's, Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, The Philadelphia Early Childhood Collaborative, The Reinvestment Fund and St. Joseph's University. The grant is provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the John and Chara Haas Trust, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is ranked today as the best pediatric hospital in the nation by a comprehensive Child magazine survey. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 381-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents from before birth through age 19.

Children's Hospital operates the nation's most comprehensive pediatric healthcare network, including eight outpatient specialty care center centers, four in-patient units at community hospitals, and 25 KidsFirst pediatric and adolescent practices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

CONTACT: Joey McCool of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, +1-215-590-7092.