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A Resource for Libraries

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Kids and their parents at the library Parents playing peek-a-boo A parent reading a book with a child Kid playing at the library

Why ELF?

kids in the library In spite of our growing understanding that the early years are pivotal for later success and that important foundational skills must be supported during this critical period, too many children — especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable — continue to fall behind. Too many children are starting school without the language, cognitive, social, and emotional tools needed to succeed, and too many are reaching the critical third-grade mark unable to meet the expectations for ongoing success.

Research shows that children who start behind will stay behind and in many cases continue to lose ground, making it more likely they will need costly remediation, be retained, or even drop out of school.

KIDS COUNT Data Book These conditions disproportionately impact poor and minority children — a large and growing segment of young children who are growing up in under-resourced environments. The stark disparities (in both human and material resources) between poor and more affluent populations have resulted in what many are calling a "knowledge" or "opportunity" gap. This gap is an issue that must be addressed, and libraries are part of the solution.

For specific data that illuminates how our kids are doing and what policies and programs might lead to improvements, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Book is an invaluable tool. The statistics can help make the case for how organizations like libraries can work with children and families to improve the outcomes for our youngest citizens.