Recent News

January 17, 2018

United Way Sees Bright Spots in Northern Kentucky Kindergarten Readiness

United Way of Greater Cincinnati continues to see success in its longtime commitment to preparing children for kindergarten — a key step for many families on a journey out of poverty. A recent report from Kentucky shows 53 percent of children in Northern Kentucky are prepared for kindergarten. That’s an increase from last year’s report of 52 percent.

As United Way sharpens its focus on poverty, recently announcing an ambitious goal to move 10,000 tristate children and families out of poverty in four years, kindergarten readiness will continue to play an important role in helping families move toward self-sufficiency. 

“Northern Kentucky districts such as Erlanger-Elsmere Schools, Dayton Independent Schools, Boone County Schools and Walton-Verona Independent Schools are just a few of the districts that have demonstrated the value they place on early childhood by investing significant resources to broaden and improve quality options for families in their district.” said Leshia Lyman, vice president, United Way Success by 6, United Way’s regional early childhood initiative. “Success By 6 values our partnership with districts as part of a collective community response to increase kindergarten readiness and is grateful for the leadership role districts have provided in this important work.”  


Dayton Independent Schools has seen a 15-percent increase in the number of children prepared for kindergarten, while Walton Verona Independent Schools has seen an 8-percent increase. 

“We can make a direct link to school readiness and exposure to quality early childhood experiences,” said, Amanda Greenwell, director, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Area Center. “Over the last three years, Dayton Independent Schools has demonstrated children entering kindergarten with preschool experiences are three times more likely to test ‘ready’ for kindergarten.  Across the NKY region, we also know that 50% of our children arrive to kindergarten without these critical early childhood experiences.” 

Greenwell says Northern Kentucky districts are working harder than ever to get out in the community and share resources with families that give them options in promoting quality early learning. For example, Walton Verona Independent Schools will soon build a new early childhood education center directly behind the central office in Walton. 

“At this point, we are only in the design and approval phase, but currently we will have, on paper, multiple modern classroom spaces, a larger multipurpose room, an outdoor play area and a new driveway and bus loop,” said Robert Hartman, principal, Walton-Verona Independent Schools Elementary. “We get a lot of mileage out of building strong relationships with our families of these preschoolers. Together, community and school do great things.” 


Brittney Howell, director of special education and preschool, Dayton Independent Schools, agrees teamwork is key to success. 

“The collaboration between our community child care agencies, head start, and public preschool has been a crucial piece,” Howell said. “We are truly a team that is learning from each other and working together in order to provide as many high-quality, personalized early childhood care and learning experiences for our Dayton families.”

To make that effort even stronger, together with other community partners, United Way recently launched, a community portal for early education resources.


“It’s aimed at sharing early childhood information with parents in one convenient location,” Greenwell said. “The website allows parents to identify options that best fit their family based on their community, school district or other specific need.” 

If your child will be 5 years old by Aug. 1, 2018 visit your local school for kindergarten registration during the month of March. Children who are 3 and 4 years old may also qualify for public preschool, also enrolling in March. For more information on registration, please visit