Early Childhood

What is Early Childhood and Why is it so important?
  • Early Childhood is Prenatal to age 8.
  • The first five years of a child’s life are the most critical for brain development.
  • Research shows the essential need for all children to have strong attachments and quality early care and education experiences.
  • Parental Support is crucial. Parents are their children's first teachers.

The Early Childhood Office
The Early Childhood Office was established in 2008 with support from
the City of Norwalk, Norwalk Public Schools, the United Way of Coastal
Fairfield County and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund.

BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
Why is it so important?
Learn more about your baby’s brain development: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/bbb/brainTimeline.php

READ –TALK—SING TO YOUR CHILD! EVERYDAY!
Why is it so important?

o Reading with your baby or child helps to strengthen the child/parent bond and also helps in language and vocabulary development. 

http://www.reachoutandread.org/our-story/importance-of-reading-aloud/)


o Talking with your baby in the language that you are most comfortable using helps grow your baby’s brain.  Early exposure to language can help a child build vocabulary, communicate better with adults, be ready for kindergarten and be reading on grade level at the end of third grade.  Kids who learn to read by third grade are 4 times more likely to graduate from high school. 
Singing with your baby even before she knows words helps build her brain.  Your baby loves the sound of your voice even if you think that you can’t sing! 


Programs and Services for Families

Preschool Programs in Norwalk
Why is it so important?
A quality preschool experience benefits children in many ways:
Academically-preschool teaches pre-literacy and numeracy skills which prepares children for kindergarten and beyond. Preschool also teaches children how to be students—by helping children get used to routines, develop problem solving skills, learn how to compromise with others, self-regulate their behavior and gain independence.

Socially-children learn the social skills necessary for a group setting. In preschool children make friends and develop important relationships and connections with other children and adults.

There are a variety of preschools in Norwalk including private providers and center and school-based programs. They offer full- and part-day options for families.  Children entering preschool must be 3-years old or 2.9 years of age if enrolling in September and turning 3 on or before the end of the calendar year. 

Click here for the NECC Preschool Guide in English or Spanish

For families who qualify by family size and income, the state of Connecticut offers subsidies through various early education programs in Norwalk under the School Readiness and Child Daycare Contract programs. Also listed in the Guide are subsidized toddler programs located at Nathaniel Ely and Ben Franklin centers.

Care4Kids:  Care 4 Kids helps low to moderate income families in Connecticut pay for child care costs. This program is sponsored by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.  Many area childcare centers and family childcare programs take Care 4 Kids.  http://www.ctcare4kids.com/

Norwalk also has Early Head Start and Head Start programs that are federally funded and free to qualifying families.  They are located at Nathaniel Ely and Benjamin Franklin Centers and are administrated by Connecticut Institute for Communities (CIFC).  

Another early care and education option is childcare in a licensed family childcare program.  The best source for the latest information is: https://www.211ct.org/.

Family Resource Centers
Families can access information at Norwalk’s Family Resource Centers located at Fox Run Elementary School (203.899.2326) and Side by Side Charter School (203.857.0306). More information is available by going to the Norwalk Family Resource Centers Facebook page.

Parents as Teachers
There is a Parents as Teachers program at Norwalk’s Family Resource Centers for families with children ages birth to 5.

Programs provide monthly personal visits to families and group connections (Early Learning Groups) focused on parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting, and family well-being. They support parents throughout pregnancy until their children enter kindergarten. FRCs provide developmental screenings for children using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ-3) and connect families with resources as needed. For more information about Parents as Teachers, please call or email the Family Resource Centers at Fox Run Elementary School (203.899.2326) and Side by Side Charter School (203.857.0306). 

Information for Families
Information about important services for families in Norwalk can be found at
https://cdi.211ct.org/, or call the Norwalk Early Childhood Office, 203.854.4148. 

Families can learn more about their child’s development by using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ-3), a fun, interactive way to understand the many changes a baby or young child goes through.   https://cdi.211ct.org/program/ages-and-stages/


The Norwalk Early Childhood Council
Since 1998, the School Readiness Council and now, the Norwalk Early Childhood Council (NECC), have worked to ensure that all Norwalk children enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed in school and in life. The Council views early literacy development as essential for the success of all children. This broad-based collaborative is comprised of area agencies, early care and education providers, government, the public schools and funders. The group supports literacy and early childhood initiatives in Norwalk. Funding from the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County has allowed the council to support early childhood literacy programs and workshops including the Reach Out and Read program at the Norwalk Community Health Center, Raising Readers Parent Book Clubs in collaboration with the Fox Run Family Resource Center and community outreach to new parents through Norwalk Hospital, the Norwalk Town Clerk’s office and the Norwalk Health Department. 


The NECC’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan shows the Council’s plan for “The Most Advanced Early Childhood Experience in Connecticut” for all of Norwalk’s children in the goal areas of School Readiness, Family Engagement and Advocacy. 

The Council consists of committees charged with guiding the implementation of the Plan strategies. The committees are comprised of members of the council and community representing agencies, government, business, early childhood providers and parents. Find more information about the Council on the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/norwalkearlychildhoodcouncil.

The NECC is also part of Norwalk ACTS.  Norwalk ACTS is a diverse partnership of over 100 civic leaders, educators and organizations working collectively to achieve the mission of enriching and improving the lives and futures of all Norwalk’s children, cradle to career.  www.norwalkacts.org