By Karen Kiely, Executive Director/CEO, CAP Tulsa
For more than two decades, Community Action Project of Tulsa County (CAP Tulsa) has been providing high-quality early childhood education combined with family-strengthening support services for parents. The agency’s work with young children and their parents simultaneously advances a two-generation approach to interrupt the cycle of poverty.
CAP Tulsa’s mission is to help young children in lower-income families grow up and achieve economic success, and the agency’s vision for the future is that all children served by CAP Tulsa reach their full developmental potential by the end of third grade. Additionally, CAP Tulsa has adopted the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Advancing Equity Position Statement: “All children have the right to equitable learning opportunities that enable them to achieve their full potential as engaged learners and valued members of society.”
CAP Tulsa’s Early Childhood Program serves nearly 2,000 children under the age of five through full-day, year-round, center-based early learning programs at 10 preschools across three school districts and through an evidence-based home visiting program. Our goal is to prepare children for kindergarten to increase the likelihood of their future academic and economic success, narrowing the well-documented opportunity gap that too often exists between children from economically disadvantaged families and their wealthier peers.
CAP Tulsa’s Early Childhood Program helps children develop critical school readiness skills related to literacy, math, language, social-emotional, cognitive, and fine and gross motor development. The agency promotes early literacy both in the classroom and in the home through intentional family engagement. Current research indicates that early literacy is a major factor in children’s ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade – a benchmark for future academic success and a critical need for Tulsa area students as measured by the Equality Indicators. CAP Tulsa provides a variety of literacy activities and opportunities designed to foster children’s love of reading at an early age and to encourage parents to embrace reading as a shared family activity. Lending libraries exist in each of our 10 preschool centers, along with a rich selection of age-appropriate and culturally relevant books across our 137 classrooms.
Another Equality Indicator that CAP Tulsa supports directly is reducing chronic absence. Through rigorous attendance data collection and reporting, as well as continually educating parents on the benefits of regular attendance, the agency is helping families to build good habits for future school success.
CAP Tulsa has a strong track record of preparing young children for school. In 2016, Developmental Psychology published results of a long-term, independent study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Research on Children in the United States concluding “the Tulsa CAP Head Start program produced significant and consequential effects into the middle school years” including “significant positive effects on achievement test scores… grade retention and chronic absenteeism.”
The agency is proud of our long history of excellence in early childhood education, helping prepare young children from low-income backgrounds for success in Kindergarten and beyond.