This is the ‘Week of the young child.’ Across the U.S., communities are taking a close look at programs and services available to children, as well as better ways to prepare them for school. Wrangell’s Young Child Coalition is taking part in this effort by highlighting a number of local programs offered in the community to children five and under.

In Wrangell’s old gym, a group of moms meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“We do tot gym 3 times a week, sometimes we do library story time once a week, just different things when we can,” That’s Mother of four, Jessica Rooney takes her kids to a number of the free programs offered each week by Wrangell’s Early Childhood Coalition. She says it’s a great way for her children to socialize. It also gives her a little time to talk with other moms in the community.

“Sometimes we get together outside of tot gym and do girls nights and stuff like that so it’s a nice way to connect as a mom and for your kids,” she says.

Wrangell’s Borough Assembly recently recognized April 22nd-28th as the Week of the Young Child. Early Childhood Coalition Chair Krissy Smith says this year’s theme is Kindergarten readiness.

“Research is showing that a lot of kids aren’t ready for school. The first 5 years are the most important years and if we can’t start when they’re young and build a strong foundation then when they get to school they are usually struggling,” she says.

Wrangell’s Early Childhood Coalition is made up of 30 community members and is funded through a grant from “Best Beginnings.” The statewide public-private partnership supports people and resources to ensure children are ready for school.  Smith says the group is working to increase the number of daycare providers in the community.

“This year we are trying to get more funding and get more people involved. Hopefully we will be helping some people start up some daycares. We want to get more daycares going and more mentoring and just provide better funding for the kids,” she says.

Working with Smith is volunteer Julie Decker.

“It’s the mentality that it takes village to raise a child and I think the coalition really encompasses it.  So this is just a way to celebrate what we do for kids and the people that do it,” she says.

Decker says the coalition promotes a variety of services to parents and children including tot gym, training for daycare providers, a resource center for parents at the library, and a weekly story time.

“All the types of things kids need like strong family and a strong upbringing, because research has shown that the first 5 years of a kid’s life is really important,” she says.

The Early Childhood Coalition will end the Week of the Young Child with a family lunch at Aunties Daycare on Friday, April 27th.