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Setting SAIL Toward Kindergarten Readiness

SAIL (Systems Aligned in Learning) now reaches 40 in-home child care providers throughout Lancaster County. The effort, which brings a variety of free resources to children cared for by those providers, is a collaborative project involving several partners led by Luthercare. In December 2017, the Lancaster County Community Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to help expand program services.

According to William Snyder, vice president for philanthropy and community engagement for Luthercare, SAIL grew out of a call to unite toward meeting specific county needs. "The evolution of SAIL was in response to the community collective impact work of United Way of Lancaster County," said Snyder. He added that successful preparation to enter school can positively affect a child's future. "If you're ready to enter kindergarten, you are much more likely to finish high school and succeed," he said.

Luthercare, located at 600 E. Main St., Lititz, joined a number of other partners to target county school districts that showed the most need. According to Jamie Reichenbach, director of early learning for Luthercare, partners include COBYS Family Services, Lancaster County Council of Churches, the Library System of Lancaster County, and the Mid-State Regional Key, which is part of the Pennsylvania Keys for Quality Early Childhood Education.

As part of SAIL, COBYS provides a social-emotional curriculum and training to in-home care providers. The library system operates the Be-Ready-Rover, which is a child's bookmobile. "(The Rover) offers ... anything you could get in the children's section of the library," explained Reichenbach. The Lancaster County Council of Churches helps to combine healthy eating recommendations with a learning experience for preschoolers and provides one healthy snack per month for in-home child care services associated with the program. As a professional development organization, SAIL receives grant funding from the Mid-State Regional Key, a quality rating organization for the state to provide training to child care providers across the state. "The intention ... (is to help) providers obtain a Child Development Associate credential," said Reichenbach.

SAIL currently provides one full-time and one part-time bilingual mentor to work with in-home care providers. "When the mentor goes out, they look at everything ... to help that provider get ready for the state visit and the survey process," explained Snyder. "They take resources (and) lesson planning materials (with them), and they ... demonstrate effective use and modeling of those teaching techniques for those in-home providers."

Reichenbach noted that more funds allow the program to reach more of the 100 care providers located throughout the county. "We have a lot of providers in the city (of Lancaster), but we also see providers in the Quarryville area and the Cocalico School District," she said. "We know that the need is much greater than what we are currently serving," added Snyder.

Lorita Valente, Luthercare's executive director of community programs, noted the importance of a program like SAIL for child care providers. "(Providers) can't send a staff member to training, (but) the opportunity to have mentors ... give them the support in-house is an amazing thing for them. The more they have the more they can give to the children for kindergarten readiness."

Readers who would like more information about SAIL may call 717-626-1171, ext. 1658.

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