What is SPARK?
The SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) program provides a kindergarten readiness advantage for families with preschool-age children (three- and four-year-olds).
Once or twice a month, the SPARK family meets with their assigned home visitor, called a parent partner. The parent partner helps the parent engage the child in a lesson that was developed around state standards and is designed to provide a school readiness advantage.
At each visit, a book, an activity card, and supplies are given to the family, so the parent can continue the learning between visits.
SPARK also conducts developmental screenings, provides referrals and linkages to community resources, and offers group-based learning opportunities. The SPARK team (which includes school-based personnel and professionals in early childhood education, mental health, and speech-language development) works to address barriers to school readiness, long before the child begins school.
SPARK began as a collaboration between the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. SPARK is now managed and operated by the Early Childhood Resource Center.
During its first year, SPARK served 140 children in two Stark County school districts (a large urban district and a small rural district). Today, SPARK is producing positive results in 22 school districts in nine Ohio counties. SPARK programs serve over 2,000 children annually.