SPARK Ohio is an exceptionally effective way to close the gap and ensure that children continue to make progress. The programs aims to change the trajectory of children from poor and low-income families prior to kindergarten entry, and to improve the transition practices and engagement of families in order to sustain academic and social gains through children’s elementary school years, ultimately helping to turn around low-performing schools.
The SPARK Ohio Initiative began with a 2002 W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant awarded to the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton to address the school readiness of children by working with families and schools. The original project began in two school districts in Stark County (a large urban district and a small rural district). Today, SPARK is producing positive results in eleven Ohio counties. SPARK is operating in 22 school districts, serving over 2,000 children annually.
SPARK helps improve children’s readiness for kindergarten, works closely with families to help them understand and cultivate their children’s readiness, offers supports for success in school, and promotes a community-led collaborative approach to partnering with schools to ensure that they are ready to receive and engage all children and families.
SPARK is typically overseen by a community nonprofit organization that partners with a local school district. However, in more recent years, school districts have started their own SPARK programs. That lead organization oversees daily operations, including hiring and supervising parent partner home visitors and ordering supplies. Typically, recruitment of SPARK families is conducted in cooperation with the school district. The nonprofit and the district collaborate on many aspects of SPARK, including the responsive services process that identifies children with concerns that may prevent school readiness. SPARK group lessons are typically held in the school building, as are SPARK school-based programs.
SPARK replication sites receive technical assistance and support from the Lead Site, the Early Childhood Resource Center, which provides training and ongoing administrative assistance on every level of operation (programming, management, etc.), access to program materials, and support for evaluation.
For additional information about SPARK Replication, please call Mary Brady at (330) 491-3272 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.