Think Small

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The best way to help kids succeed in school and get out of poverty is through high quality early education. We make this possible.

A baby on the way, a full time job… all the stars were lined up for Amanda and her husband Oscar. But then a series of events derailed everything for this young couple, who are residents of St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. This is a story of how Think Small helped Jimmy, their son, so he could get early care and education he needed.

In just one year, the Tallen family went from having $15,000 in savings and no debt, to no savings and $30,000 in credit card debt. How did this happen? Amanda was 8 months pregnant when she was let go from a promising career in the insurance industry and she had to find work fast. Her husband was a seasonal worker while building his English language skills, and their savings were quickly used up on basic living expenses. Jimmy was born healthy but colicky. Furthermore, as he matured, Jimmy had other needs.

By the time he reached two and a half, Jimmy was not yet speaking and Amanda knew she had to find a secure care setting where he could receive the learning support he needed while she rebuilt the family’s main source of income. “I know other moms whose kids are so far behind when they get to kindergarten, and I wasn’t going to let this happen to Jimmy.” But they didn’t have income for a program and although the family qualified for Federal child care assistance, they were put on a two year waiting list.

Then Amanda heard about Think Small, which connected her to scholarship funds for income-eligible families for quality early learning settings. Amanda was surprised to find she had a choice for her child. The first question asked by Think Small’s scholarship manager Patti Kester was, “Where would you like to use it?” Amanda couldn’t believe that she could use the dollars for any early learning program, so long as it had a 3 or 4 star rating under Minnesota’s Parent Aware program. She did her research and considered five programs before settling on St. Paul’s Childhood Center, which had a curriculum helpful for Jimmy.

As a result, Jimmy will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2014 on track! What does the future hold for him? “Oh, Jimmy definitely knows what he wants to be. He’s going to be a doctor and then a pirate. In that order.” For the record we’re rooting for him to become a doctor, and perhaps a pirate on stage.

Think Small takes its tagline very seriously – leaders in early learning. Ninety percent of a child’s brain develops in the first five years of life, a time when the majority of young children are in some form of early care and learning environment. This is the best time to make a difference for kids and families!

We are committed to ensuring that children enter school well prepared for learning success and well supported in reaching grade three learning targets. Founded in 1971 by community members concerned about the lack of affordable, organized and accessible early childhood programs, Think Small has worked to advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years. We support families in accessing quality care and education for children, build the knowledge and skills of early childhood professionals to assure quality, and work to improve the entire system of early care and education by catalyzing strong partnerships and maintaining a firm focus on underserved communities.

Please join us as our partners in ensuring early learning success!

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    10 Yorkton Court
    St. Paul, MN 55117
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