Story Provided by Multnomah County's SUN Service Program and P-3 Coordinators
The Early Kindergarten Transition Program (EKT) is part of the SUN Service System that is funded by Multnomah County. It is a 2-3 week summer program for children and their parents/caregivers. Through EKT, children meet their teachers, make new friends, and become familiar with kindergarten routines, skills, and expectations. Their parents/caregivers participate in group activities where they learn about kindergarten and their school. It's a supportive approach for learning at home and connecting with school staff and other parents.
Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation Program (KPI) funds were used to support the EKT programs across all districts (48 sites) by providing families with books to encourage early literacy/family engagement at home, training for teachers to use the Red Light Purple Light self-regulation intervention curriculum and encouraging social/emotional development, parent/caregiver group facilitation training for EKT parent educators, and EKT Childcare training and supplies to support the EKT classrooms.
In 2021, sites did their best to enroll as many students as allowed in meeting safety protocols due to COVID guidelines with social distancing requirements. With work on establishing trust and relationships, all 48 programs were open and running.
P-3 Coordinators collaborated to work with EKT kindergarten families within 10 SUN Sites in the different school districts. SUN and P-3 worked hard to have an in-person school-based program with COVID still a reality and with barriers for families to fully participate. Kindergartners were in school classrooms for programming while parents/caregivers were not all able to have EKT parent groups inside school buildings due to restrictions. Most EKT parent groups were held virtually, and EKT parent engagement was extended to fall and months further into the school year to give parents more flexibility with time to engage due to barriers. They worked with EKT parents/caregivers by hosting meetings, events, and activities that allowed parents/caregivers space to connect to gain support, school readiness tools for kindergarten success, and resources before the school year started.