HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Early childhood education is an important part of development for kids.

The United Way of Madison County is collaborating with its partner agencies to ensure that all children are ready for kindergarten.

A spokesperson for United Way says childcare and enrichment for our youngest children allows for them to have a strong start in life. It also keeps the adults in their lives able to go to work and/or school to improve the family’s future.

“I think the main importance is making sure our children are actually prepared to go into the K-12 system. Our role is to actually to help build a foundation so the children are actually ready to make that leap,” said Dana Gillis, Executive Director of Village of Promise.

“With the programs at the Y, and of course the Village of Promise, that is our ultimate goal. Is to make sure these children are prepared, and we set them up for success and developmentally ready when they go to school,” said Erin Ledet, Director of Early Childhood for the Heart of the Valley YMCA.

Gillis says children can face challenges if they aren’t ready for kindergarten.

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“The kids that we actually deal with are from under-resourced families. And there was a study that came out back in 2013 that said children from under-resourced households in preschools have a 30-million-word gap. That means 30 million words that they are not exposed to compared to their counterparts,” Gillis explained. “Our role is to try to close that gap.”

Village of Promise offers Promise Preparatory School and Pre-K 4 preparation programs to children.

Heart of the Valley Y offers childcare as well as educational programs for young children.

“Which starts with the basics, that’s our infants to three [years old], as well as the First-Class Pre-K. So, those 4-year-olds, as well as those infants and toddlers, are very important to touch. “

To register for First Class Pre-K is offered through the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. Registration is now open and can be found on the ADECE website.