Our Focus

“This is the wet concrete moment in a child’s life, when we have the most opportunity.”  -Christine Espina

We know that if children have what they need to thrive in their early years, they are likely to continue to thrive throughout their lifetimes. If we can address housing security for our families with young children, we can address the toxic stress that accompanies homelessness and poverty. If we ensure our families with young children have access to quality, affordable child care, we can contribute to positive learning experiences and family economic health. If we support the mental health needs of caregivers and young children, we can reduce the likelihood of a youth or adult mental health crisis.

How Early Childhood Experiences Affect Lifelong Health

Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University

We use kindergarten readiness data, disaggregated by race & ethnicity, as an indicator of how well our community supports early childhood well-being.  The data shows that overall, children of color are half as likely to be ready for kindergarten than children who are white. Data isn’t perfect, AND one data point doesn’t tell the full story of a child’s experience, but kindergarten-readiness is the most widely used data point in our state to understand The Groundwater that our children might experience before they enter kindergarten. In order to improve this data indicator, we need to make positive impacts on the ecosystem of our families and young children. 

Kindergarten Readiness is a term that refers to data collected by The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). This data collection is based on 6 domains: Physical, Social-Emotional, Cognitive, Language, Math, and Literacy. 

In Whatcom County, about half of all children entering public schools or the Lummi Nation school are “kindergarten ready” across all 6 developmental domains. 

At the time of registration, parents have the option to self-report their child’s race and/or ethnicity. 

Over the last 5 years, more than half of these students score “kindergarten ready” across all 6 developmental domains. 

Over the last 5 years, about 20% of these students scored “kindergarten ready” across all 6 developmental domains. These students on average, are entering kindergarten less than half as developmentally ready as their Whatcom County peers of other races and ethnicities.  

For each cycle of community health improvement, a small number of priorities are chosen to act on to improve health equity. These focus areas are determined through a prioritization process where data from the most recent community health assessment are examined. These priority areas, the results we hope to achieve, and our actions to do so will all be compiled into Whatcom County’s newest community health improvement plan. 

We believe that by creating positive and lasting change for the youngest members of our community, we will have the most significant impact on improving community health and eliminating racial inequities. Data about early childhood well-being reflects how children and families are doing across multiple areas of health. To improve early childhood well-being for children and families of all races and ethnicities in Whatcom County, Healthy Whatcom is focusing on the following three priorities: