Herkimer Central School District families have a new helping hand when it comes to getting kids ready for kindergarten.
The United Way’s “Ready for Kindergarten” (R4K) program, which places “family navigators” in school districts to support children from birth through age 4 and their families, has expanded to include Herkimer this year.
Kindergarten and UPK registration will take place in March.
“It’s a way to bridge the gap between the school and the community,” explained Craig Benoit, the family school navigator serving Herkimer Elementary School.
Mr. Benoit, who started working with the district in January, is already getting to know some of the district’s youngest students by spending time in the pre-K classrooms.
“They get so excited when I come down there,” he said with a smile. “I get a lot of high-fives from them.”
From there, he hopes to be able to connect with families who might benefit from community resources that could support them. Mr. Benoit gave an example of a young child who could benefit from speech therapy, or a family who could use assistance with food, housing or transportation needs.
“The goal is to provide help and support — whatever that may be,” Mr. Benoit explained. “There are a lot of early interventions that can make a big difference for a child if they’re able to get access to it at a young age, before they start kindergarten.”
“Making the connections between our families and schools stronger and providing early interventions will help our students come to school ready to learn and bolster their scholastic success,” Superintendent Robert Miller said.