Organizations: Glynn County Family Connection
Glynn County Family Connection (GCFC) strives to break the cycle of generational poverty on the coast by improving the lives of children, families and communities.
“Gov. Zell Miller started [the state’s umbrella] organization 25 years ago to help at a county by county level to be more responsive to solving the issues leading to poverty, such as poor education and teen pregnancy,” says Executive Director Melinda Ennis-Roughton. “I work with more than 75 partners in a collaborative from the education, faith, private, public and nonprofit sectors to address problems identified in our data.”
For instance, Ennis-Roughton says, local low-income children were not enrolled in Pre-K at an optimal rate.
“We know that low-income children with no early education begin kindergarten with a listening vocabulary of 3,000 words, versus 20,000 words for other income groups,” Ennis-Roughton says. “So, poor kids begin at a deficit and usually can’t catch up. If they can’t read by third grade, they are six to 10 times more likely to drop out.”
To help bring more kids into Pre-K, GCFC worked with the school system to provide four-year-olds with transportation to classes. It was a costly endeavor, as the young students need age-specific $200 seat restraints for safety. The number of low-income kids participating in Pre-K rose from 32 to 42 percent.
The group’s other big initiative is affordable child care. “Most jobs here are low wage, and child care at $120 per week per child is simply not an option,” she says. “We are working with the business community to come up with subsidy vouchers or a child care consortium to help with this issue.”
Change may happen in increments, but even small amounts of progress add up, she says.