In 2003, The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund awarded a four-year grant to the United Way of Southington to improve the lives of the young children in town. At that time, the United Way was implementing an early childhood initiative known as “Smart Wiring” under the direction of Jan Hayes. In 2004, supervision of the grant was transferred to the Southington Community YMCA.
A well-attended Community Conversation in 2005 set the agenda for the future work of the ECCS. Community concerns included
A small group of committed educators, providers and parents continued to work to address the community concerns.
2006 brought renewed energy as the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain became involved as the fiscal agent, took over the supervision of the grant, and funded the hiring of a part time coordinator. With a coordinator on staff and a new highly supportive school superintendent, the ECCS quickly gained momentum and in December of 2007 was awarded another two years of funding through the Graustein Memorial Fund. The work of the group centered on professional development for home and center providers, improving communication between preschool providers and the school system and the establishment of a Family Resource Center of Southington (FRCS). The FRCS began programming in January of 2009, with a part time director and within the first six months had held programs in 5 of the 8 elementary schools, serving 44 families and 80 children. The FRCS, which split from the ECCS and is now a program of the Southington Public Schools, currently employs a director and family program coordinator. The FRCS programs and office space are located in Hatton Elementary School.
In 2012 the ECCS was awarded a two year grant from the Graustein Memorial Fund to develop a community plan. This involved data gathering from many sources, community forums, and the hiring of a new coordinator, dedicated solely to the development and implementation of the plan. A second community survey occurred over the winter of 2015-2016. Funding from Graustein continued until 2016.
Mary Yuskis, Ed. D. was brought on as the director of the ECCS in July 2014. When Mary and her family moved out of state in July 2016, longtime Southington resident Joanne Kelleher was hired to continue the work of the Collaborative. A press release about the transition can be viewed here.
Since the first grant was awarded in 2003 a dedicated group of individuals have been working diligently toward the mission of the ECCS that
“All Southington Children will Enter School Ready to Learn”