Children our are first priority. The Helen R. Walton Children's Enrichment Center(HWCEC) and the Early Childhood Initiatives Center(ECIC) act as the centerpiece for awareness, outreach strategies, and community based solutions to improve the quality of early childhood education in Northwest Arkansas.
HWCEC is a Northwest Arkansas nonprofit organization providing early childhood education for 250 children age six weeks to pre-kindergarten. Our mission is simple: children are our first priority. Since 1982, our commitment has been to provide families access to the highest quality of early childhood education and care. As a 3 star rated Better Beginnings program, HWCEC took a strategic leadership role in 2009 by opening the Early Childhood Initiatives Center (ECIC) to support the 507 early childhood programs that provide care and education to over 40,000 children in Northwest Arkansas.
Today, nearly 70% of all children under five are cared for by
an adult outside the home.
Studies show that attendance for at least one year in a high quality early childhood program results in:
decrease in school remediation
· a three-fold increase in high school graduation rates
· less use of social services
· and higher lifetime earnings
As a result, their families are six times more likely to remain in the workforce. According to Entergy economists, this equates to a return of $9.21 for every dollar invested in high quality early childhood education to Arkansas communities. For this reason, high quality early childhood education is one of the best investments Northwest Arkansans can make.
The ECIC trains early childhood professionals on minimum state licensing requirements, early childhood education, nutrition, business development, quality accreditation, and also offers mini-grants, an educator library, resource center and technical assistance. In 2013, these free outreach programs improved the quality of care being provided at over 242 child care centers responsible for nearly 22,834 children under age five. Since 2009 our work helped double the number of centers that have obtained quality accreditation.