United for Children NWI

Planting Seeds for Success

The mission of United for Children is to enhance the quality of early childhood education opportunities in Northwest Indiana for low-income families by improving access to high-quality education programs and reducing the impact of social issues on the family unit in order to increase the economic vitality of future generations and Northwest Indiana.

United Way leads the effort to emphasize the importance of supporting this kind of quality care for children ages 0 to ­8, with focus on preschool to 3rd grade programs. United for Children supports success through High School graduation by dedicating its scope of work through 3rd-grade milestones that impact graduation rate success

United for Children is a collective regional movement to promote early childhood education that fosters collaboration among civic and business leaders, educators and parents, and nonprofits and faith-based organizations. United for Children advocates the importance of early childhood education in Northwest Indiana region to give stakeholders, policymakers and voting constituents the necessary tools to say yes to supporting future generations of learners.

What We Do

United for Children has introduced programs and training to improve kindergarten readiness for four to five-year-olds and success in elementary school meeting grade-level reading expectations by the 3rd grade. Programs include:

  • Born Learning Trails are public opportunities for parents and caregivers to share learning activities in everyday settings. Porter County has 7 trails. Read More.
  • Minds in Motion is a motor-sensory program that improves cognitive and spatial learning ability.
  • Kindergarten Readiness Camps
    • LaPorte County offers camps in three school districts to prepare kids for kindergarten.
    • Porter County has a three-week summer camp program. Read More.
    • Lake County's "On My Way PreK" pilot program places four-year-olds in quality preschool. Lake County was one of five counties awarded this opportunity.
  • Reading Buddies for 1st and 2nd graders to help improve oral fluency skills and comprehension.
  • Backpacks United helps feed hungry school children on the weekends.

Did You Know?

  • Children with high-quality preschool experiences arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. By attending a high-quality preschool, a child is 28% less likely to be incarcerated later in life.  
  • Investing $1 in early childhood education returns $16 on the investment.
  • 80% of those who attend preschool are more likely to graduate from high school. And, 84% of women who attend a high-quality preschool on average are more likely to have graduated from high school.

A child born in poverty has an uphill battle.

  • This population is two ­times more likely to experience developmental learning delays that can be with them for the rest of their lives. 
  • Many of these children begin school 12 to 16 months behind their peers if not given the proper learning tools to succeed.
  • By 3rd grade, approximately 80% of these children cannot read at the expected level and face being held back.
  • Lack of an early childhood education experience attributes to the learning gap even more for many five-year-olds in poverty. Approximately 22% of kids live in poverty in Northwest Indiana.
  • Indiana is one of five states that does not require kindergarten to start school. In Northwest Indiana, 82% of school districts provide a kindergarten program. Northwest Indiana has approximately 9,300 five-year-olds in its communities and almost 74% of them are not enrolled in kindergarten.

United for Children is an initiative of Lake Area United Way, United Way of LaPorte County and United Way of Porter County. For more information about each county's efforts click on the respective links above.