Every woman who delivers a baby in a Lexington hospital now gets a gift promoting the importance of early childhood educational development to encourage lifetime learning.
The program, called Delivery to Diploma, provides each mother with a bag of educational materials, including books and other information about the importance of learning in the first year of life. The idea is to help families stimulate learning in their children early on, so little ones will be ready for the classroom when they reach kindergarten age.
Delivery to Diploma is sponsored by the Lexington Public Library, the Fayette County Public Schools, United Way of the Bluegrass and Lexington's Child Care Council.
The program got started in January and now involves all Lexington hospitals, said Whitney Stevenson, an early childhood gap intervention specialist with the Fayette Schools, who is working on the project.
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Many women from surrounding counties come to Lexington to have their babies, so the program's message will reach far beyond Fayette County, Stevenson said.
"It's to help families know that they're preparing their children for lifelong learning from the day they're born, and help them do that," she said.
Each package includes material from Fayette Schools about reading to children at an early age, a hardcover book from the library, child care information from the Fayette Health Department, and related materials. All recipients also get forms they can send to the Fayette Schools, allowing them to receive more educational information from the schools.
Research has shown that reading to children and providing them with stimulation at an early age promotes lifetime learning.
Delivery to Diploma grew out of a similar program that the Lexington library began several years ago at University of Kentucky Hospital, called "Baby's First Library Card."
"A baby's first literacy packet in English and Spanish is basically what it was," Davis said. "UK was thrilled with it, and we wanted to take the program to other hospitals, but we just couldn't afford to do it at the time. Now, with other partners on board, we can.
"All the partners believe that teaching children, and developing their interest and vocabulary starting at an early age, is a real indicator of their success," Davis said.