Early Development

What We Have Learned

Approximately one-half of children are not developmentally or academically ready for Kindergarten in Collier County. There are significant gaps for children from birth to three years old, particularly in early literacy materials for home libraries, and fewer than one-fourth of low-income children are enrolling in any formal child care program.

We know that a shortage of quality, affordable, and accessible care, as well as family preference for at-home care, are the contributing factors. We continue to examine how to best support families with young children to improve early childhood outcomes.

Because there is no “system” that connects resources for all Collier children 0-4 years old, existing supports for school readiness are generally fragmented. As we engage the different partners, we are exploring opportunities to better align and connect resources for families.

Goal: Ensure all children are Kindergarten ready

The Early Development Goal Group is composed of staff & volunteer leaders from organizations aligning work and building strategies together, focused on the following priorities:

  1. Engage families with tools and resources to support the early development of their children.
  2. Improve the quality of existing early childhood education providers.
  3. Increase the number of high quality early childhood education spots available to low-income families.
  4. Identify and/or develop appropriate data indicators for early learning goal and priorities.

Looking for more?

Click here to see the list of Early Development Resources, including our “Kindergarten Readiness Toolkit”!

Goal Group Co-Chairs

All individuals and organizations interested in these topics meet quarterly to address community barriers and opportunities. Goal Groups are led voluntarily by experienced community leaders who facilitate, organize, and lead collaboration.

Beth Housewert
Beth Housewert
Senior Director of Play and Learning
Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (CMON)
Michelle Starr
Michelle Starr
District Pre-K Coordinator
Collier County Public Schools (CCPS)

Priority Teams

In between the quarterly Goal Group meetings, the discussion may need to continue around specific topics. We call these Priority Teams, members of which meet monthly or as needed. Priority Teams have volunteer leaders to facilitate discussions and report back to the Goal Group. For Early Development, these topics and team leads currently include…

Developmental Screenings
Dr. Courtney Whitt, Healthcare Network
Early Learning Quality & Access
Gayla Thompson, Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida
Family Engagement & Early Literacy
Beth Housewert, CMON
Kindergarten Registration & Transitions
Giuseppe Mara, Collier County Public Schools