Millage Recipient Profile - Kent ISD

Kent ISD is a local educational service agency devoted to achievement for all students. The organization serves 300 K-12 schools across the region in 20 public districts, public school academies, and non-public schools within our boundaries. This means serving more than 109,000 students.

Kent ISD serves the community by helping prepare students of every age for school and life success. They help schools devote more dollars directly to classrooms by providing essential services, collaborative initiatives and valuable learning for the region’s studentsand teachers.

Their devotion to learning in early childhood includes:

  • Great Start Readiness Program preschoolers
  • Toddlers and parents in the Blue Ribbon-accredited Bright Beginnings program for home visiting and educational playgroups
  • Babies and children (and parents) in Early On services
  • Child care providers served by Great Start to Quality

“As a long-time partner of First Steps Kent and Kent County, we are dedicated to serving the needs of parents and young children,” said Ron Caniff, superintendent of Kent ISD. “Kent ISD is very happy to be the new backbone agency for the regional referral service, Help Me Grow. We were thrilled to see the Ready by Five millage receive voter approval and are excited that families will soon have more resources and greater access to services, thanks to this funding,” he said.

In late 2019, Kent ISD was awarded Ready by Five millage funding for a navigation platform called Help Me Grow. Help Me Grow offers resources through an online platform that is supported by a Care Coordinator who offers follow up and individualized support for families. 

Ashley Karsten, director of Early Childhood, said she looks forward to providing a one-stop resource for parents and caregivers across the county. “There are so many wonderful resources and organizations in the community to support parents and children. I’m eager to provide the Help Me Grow site where they can all connect.”

Along with funding for outreach and navigation, Kent ISD was recently awarded additional funds for their Bright Beginnings program that promotes the early development, learning, and health of young children through home visits and playgroups.

Those who serve in early childhood have some of the most heart-warming stories of making a difference for children and families. One such story is the following from the Kent ISD's Bright Beginnings Program:

“We wanted our daughter to be on track and to have social experiences since she has no siblings. Our daughter loved the home visits because it was play, but at the same time learning. Our parent educator brought activities that were age-appropriate for her to do along with books to read.

She also gave us helpful handouts to keep so we could do different activities or see if she was on track for her age. If there was a delay or issue, it would have been caught early and able to be fixed or worked on before school started.

Our home visitor covered any issues or new things we were struggling with – from sleep, to behavior, to speech, to physical milestones, and so on. I now have peace of mind that she is doing well for her age and that she will continue to progress in her school years as a well-rounded child.” - Angie O.

Learn more about Kent ISD's Early Childhood services here.