Experts Share Strategies for Responding to Needs of Children and Families

Superintendents, principals, teachers and program staff from “community schools” - Schools of the 21st Century (21C) - will gather at a Yale University-sponsored national conference on July 15 - 17 to learn from an exciting mix of experts in the field of child development and learning.

The annual conference, titled “Partners for Success: Linking Communities, Families and Schools,” will take place at the Omni-New Haven Hotel at Yale. Speakers will address many topics including emotional intelligence, school readiness, family literacy, needs of immigrant families, and the role of play and television in children’s achievement. Yale University Professor Edward Zigler, founder of the 21C initiative and one of the principal architects of the federal Head Start program, will discuss the mounting recognition of the importance of providing high quality care for our youngest children and support for their families.

According to Zigler, September 11th brought sharp focus on the need for schools and communities to provide support to children and families. Long before the terrorist threat heightened national awareness, however, a group of 1,300 21C schools across the country had been responding to the developmental, emotional and physical health needs of children and their families to support children’s achievement in school. Connecticut educators participating in the program include representatives from Hamden, Hartford, Middletown, New Haven, New London, Rocky Hill, South Norwalk, Stamford, Tolland, Waterbury and West Hartford.

Zigler supports the growing trend toward providing universal pre-kindergarten in American school systems. “Schools of the 21st Century and other community schools can be the salvation of schooling in America,” said Zigler. “These schools are working toward increasing student achievement, which is first and foremost a function of whether children have had proper supports from early in their lives to promote their optimal development.”

The 21C program, also known as Family Resource Centers in some communities, transforms schools into multi-service centers offering guidance and support for parents; all day, year-round preschool; before and after school and vacation care for school-age children; health education and services; training for child care providers; and information and referral services for families.

Other conference speakers include Rosa Smith, president of the Schott Foundation and former superintendent of the Columbus Public Schools, who will discuss “Building an Educated Democracy”; Suzanne Carothers, professor of education at New York University, and Naomi Karp, United States Department of Education, who will discuss early literacy; Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, who will discuss the role of television in children’s development; Yale Professors Jerome and Dorothy Singer, who will discuss how children’s play can enhance their readiness for school; and Yale Professor Peter Salovey, who will discuss emotional intelligence. Yale Professor Alan Kazdin, new director of the Yale Child Study Center, will give the welcome.

Since 1988, more than 1,300 schools in 20 states have implemented the School of the 21st Century program. The model has proved successful in urban, rural and suburban settings as well as in affluent, middle class and poor communities.

For more information about the conference, please call Beth Lapin or Kim Bohen at 203-432-9944.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart:, 203-432-1326