The director of a Niagara University initiative that enhances the kindergarten readiness skills of young children in Niagara County has been appointed to the board of directors of the New York Zero-to-Three Network.
Lynnette Haley O’Stewart, director of the Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project, officially joined the board during the organization’s annual meeting, which was held July 29 in New York City. She is the only representative from Western New York to serve on the 30-member board of the New York Zero-to-Three Network, a group that brings early childhood practitioners together to “promote the optimal development of young children, their families and their communities.”
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to share ideas with practitioners from across the state and bring more early childhood education best practices back to the Buffalo-Niagara region,” said O’Stewart, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership and policy from NU. “I see my board role as complementary to the work we do here at Niagara University with the QIP, the Help Me Grow network and, more specifically, our work with the larger early childhood/child care community.”
Established in 1990, the New York Zero-to-Three Network is comprised of a wide range of professionals representing many disciplines who practice in and are affiliated with medical centers, universities, government and not-for-profit agencies and legal organizations.
The Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project was created in 2010 under the premise that high-quality early childhood settings will provide preschool-aged children with developmentally-appropriate activities, thus introducing them to basic learning skills that will better prepare them for success when they enter school. A second three-year grant, which runs through December, places a focus on the learning environments of infants and toddlers.
The initiative represents an unprecedented partnership across the county – a collaboration that involves Niagara University, the United Way of Greater Niagara, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Niagara Area Foundation and several local business leaders. Funding for the program has been provided by the United Way of Greater Niagara, the Grigg-Lewis Foundation and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.
To date, the program has worked with 30 child care centers in 44 preschool classrooms serving 715 preschool children during the first three-year cohort. Since the second phase of the program began, 679 infants and toddlers in 60 classrooms have received elevated quality of care thanks to the QIP.
Additionally, the QIP provided 86 child care directors and teachers with 45-hour professional development training and 43 have successfully completed coursework for college-bearing credit toward NU’s bachelor’s degree program in early childhood development and cognition.
To learn more about Niagara University’s involvement in early childhood education, please visit www.niagara.edu/institute-early-childhood-initiatives.