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.
Since 2001, Norwalk has been a Discovery community through the
Graustein Memorial Fund which has helped to support the Early
Childhood infrastructure in over 60 communities in Connecticut.

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

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. (Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids:


o Talking with your baby or child helps her brain development and teaches important social skills.
o Listening to your baby or child helps to form relationships, build self-esteem and encourages them to listen to you.

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. For families who qualify by family size and income, the state of Connecticut offers subsidies through various providers in Norwalk under the School Readiness program. These programs are indicated on the Preschool Guide.
Norwalk also has a Head Start program that is federally funded and free to qualifying families and administered by the CDI at two sites—Nathaniel Ely and Benjamin Franklin.
The city’s only subsidized toddler programs are located at Nathaniel Ely and Ben Franklin centers.

Parents as Teachers

There is a Parents as Teachers program at all three Family Resource Centers and at Norwalk City Hall. The program is funded through the State Department of Education, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and the Grossman Family Foundation and available to all Norwalk 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 Questionnaire (ASQ) and connect families with resources as needed. For more information about Parents as Teachers, please call or email the Early Childhood Office (203.854.4148 or moster@norwalkct.org).

Information for Families
Information about important services for families in Norwalk can be found by calling or emailing 2-1-1 or www.211ct.org. Through the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, the Norwalk Early Childhood Council sponsors programs for young children and their families.

Family Resource Centers
There are three Family Resource Centers in Norwalk at Fox Run (203.899.2326) and Naramake Elementary Schools (203.899.2900, ext. 123) and Side by Side Charter School (203.857.0306).
You can also get more information by going to their facebook page www.facebook.com/norwalkfamilyresourcecenters.

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 childhood and health care providers, government, the public schools and funders. The group supports literacy and early childhood initiatives in Norwalk. In 2001, Norwalk became a Discovery Community through the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. The Fund has supported many early childhood initiatives in Norwalk-including the city’s early childhood office. 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, Parent Zone Workshops in collaboration with Stepping Stones Museum for Children and the Norwalk Public Library and Raising Readers Parent Book Clubs in collaboration with the Fox Run Family Resource Center.

The NECC’s Early Childhood Action Plan 2012-2016 shows the work of the Council in the goal areas of Early Childhood Care and Education, Early Childhood Health and Family Support and Safety. Supporting early literacy development is a major component of the Action Plan.
The Council consists of working committees charged with guiding the implementation of the Early Childhood Action Plan strategies. The committees are comprised of members of the council and of the community representing agencies, government, business, early childhood providers and parents. Find more information about the Council on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/norwalkearlychildhoodcouncil.

The NECC is also part of Norwalk ACTS, a member of the STRIVE Network. The Norwalk ACTS membership is an innovative support network of community leaders and organizations committed to taking collaborative action to achieve collective impact required to ensure the success of Norwalk children and youth throughout the cradle to career learning continuum. A group of community members convenes around each of six indicators along the cradle to career continuum in Community Action Networks (CAN). The NECC convenes around the first indicator: Norwalk children are ready to enter kindergarten as part of the Kindergarten CAN. Several Council members are also active members of the Third Grade Reading CAN. For more information about Norwalk ACTS, please email Kelly at info@norwalkacts.org.

Click here for the NECC Preschool Guide in English or Spanish