By Kevin Lavery, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – The conference focused on ways to better prepare children from birth to five years old for school, and to refocus on health initiatives such as lead poisoning prevention.
Parents As Teachers National Center president and CEO Sue Stepleton says studies show that parents who get involved in their children's early development tend to stay focused once they're in school:
"They're already hooked into the educational system, and there's plenty of good data to show that this investment in very young children and their parents is the best we can do for our communities," Stepleton said.
St. Louis mayor Francis Slay says health care and preparing children for school are two key elements the city must continue working on:
"Sometimes there's overlapping services, sometimes there's redundancies and other times there's gaps in the way we provide services for children," Slay said. "And that's what we're here to address today, and determine in a better way where we can do a better job and how we can pool resources to do that."
The city of St. Louis plans to develop an early childhood action plan over the next three to four months.