School Readiness

Why School Readiness Matters

The first five years of a child’s life are a time of enormous social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth. Nearly half of the children in our community are not prepared for kindergarten. Our goal is to close the school readiness gap and to help families gain the tools necessary to achieve the greatest success in preparing their children for kindergarten. Together, with our community partners, United Way of the Black Hills is working to ensure children enter school ready to learn, improve early reading proficiency, increase attendance, and raise graduation rates.


Our Strategies:

  • Connect parents and families to information, resources and support.
  • Create an early childhood educators network that works to provide resources and support to providers in the Black Hills.
  • Help to improve the quality and access to early childhood opportunities for children and families in South Dakota.
  • Build awareness of the importance of data collection and sharing in South Dakota.
  • Implement informational campaigns to educate more individuals living in South Dakota.

The Facts:

  • For every 50 children who don’t learn to read in kindergarten – 44 of them will be less likely to be proficient readers by 3rd grade.
  • Approximately 27 states collect data on school readiness of children entering kindergarten.
  • 85% of the brains neural connections are made in the first 5 years of life. Yet this age group has the least amount of focus nationally and in South Dakota.
  • Nearly 25% of SD children are unaccounted for and have no access to early childhood education before entering kindergarten. 


School Readiness Programs & Resources

Baby's First Book Bag

A collection of early literacy materials, developmental check lists, and other community literacy resources.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

A book is mailed monthly to families with children under the age of five who might not otherwise be able to afford age appropriate books for their children.

Want to know more?