Our children need to be ready.

For school.  For life.  

Each year  nearly 3,000 children are born in Shelby County.  There are more than 10,000 children living in Shelby County.  Shelby County can and should be the best place to raise a young child.

We work to create opportunities for Shelby County children to be safe, healthy, and to learn and grow and reach their full potential. 


The Opportunity

Babies are born learning.

The most important development in a child's brain occurs before the age of 5.  In those years, 85% of the brain is developed.  During the first years of life, 1 million neural connections happen each second.  

A child's brain is built through touch, talk, sight and sound in early childhood experiences at home and in early learning settings.  The achievement gap can start at 18 months, and widens each year.  Entering kindergarten socially and emotionally ready is a keystone for educational and life success.

Kindergarten Classroom

The Challenge

Finding quality care and education is hard.

Nearly 70% of Shelby County children need care while their parents are working.  Most Shelby County children spend large amounts of time outside of the home in early care and education settings or out-of-school programs.

Quality care can be hard to find and afford, especially for low-income and County-residing families.  

Many of the youngest and most vulnerable Shelby County children are not getting the best early education opportunities.

  • 14% of Shelby County children live below the poverty line

  • Less than 40% of Shelby County children are enrolled in known early education or out-of-school program. 

  • A single parent living in poverty pays 40% of their income to access a high-quality care program in  Shelby County. 

Teacher and Kids in Library

The Solution

Access to quality care and education develops skills that last a lifetime.

Success starts early.  But, failure can start early too.

Overwhelming evidence shows that children who begin kindergarten behind often stay behind throughout their educational journey.  

Skills developed during childhood greatly influence success later in life and can improve upward mobility.  Providing access to high-quality early learning and out-of-school programs boosts cognitive, social and emotional skills that make stronger learners, leading to better education, health, and economic achievement.

High-quality early learning amplifies the important work parents and families are doing to develop children.  Parents and teachers want to work together to do what is best for children.  Teaching and nurturing the smallest among us will see the biggest rewards.