On February 4, 2016, more than 200 participants in the Get Ready Guilford Early Childhood Summit committed to make positive change for young children and families in Guilford County by joining a 100-Day Challenge Team. In total, sixteen teams launched — each focusing on a particular part of the community-built vision (PDF) designed to make sure more children in Guilford County enter kindergarten prepared for what’s ahead.
Teams are focused on many different areas aligned with the vision. All teams are starting by examining best practices related to their particular area to see what’s working well in other communities in the U.S. and around the world. On May 24 — the end of the 100-Day Challenge — each team will deliver their findings, “product” and recommendations at a community celebration.
Here are some of the questions the teams are exploring and answering:
- Parenting Education. Parents and caregivers say that they need parenting education in order to get children ready for kindergarten. What are the current assets and existing gaps in parenting education resources within Guilford County? Who receives parenting education services — and who doesn’t? Where are services delivered and how often? What needs to be put in place to ensure more parents get guidance to help their child(ren) be prepared?
- Baby Friendly Community. Pediatricians recommend that, whenever possible, new mothers breastfeed their babies until age one. Studies show significant, positive health benefits for babies and for mothers who breastfeed for at least six months. Today, 33% of mothers in Guilford County breastfeed for at least six months. Since breastfeeding moms need support for this important role, what would it take for Guilford County to become a breastfeeding-friendly community?
- Transition to Kindergarten. Families report that the transition to kindergarten is difficult for them and for their children. Teachers agree. What can we do to make the transition from PreK to kindergarten easier for children, their families, teachers and administrators? What could we do differently in order to get better results?
- Developmental Screenings. Developmental screenings can be a powerful tool to identify developmental delays early in a child’s life. What developmental screenings are children receiving in Guilford County today? Where are those screenings given? How are results used? Are there common tools used across settings, i.e. pediatrician offices, childcare settings, other programs, etc.? To which services are families referred? What needs to be put in place so that developmental issues are picked up earlier in a child’s life to improve his/her outcomes?
- Effective Application and Referral System. More effective sharing of information across agencies and organizations can help families of young children get what they need more efficiently and effectively. How can we improve the way referrals are made and received with the goal of helping families access and use services that will help their children prepare for kindergarten?
- Early Literacy. Pediatricians recommend reading to babies starting at birth. What does a community look like that encourages reading from the earliest ages? What assets do we have to support this? Where are the gaps? Where are services provided and how often are they provided to families? What are the barriers families face?
- Safe and Stable Homes. Having a safe and stable home — a place where young children can thrive — is a priority for families. It’s a complex issue, but a 100-Day Challenge Team is exploring how increasing families’ financial literacy can help them stabilize their housing situations.
- Trauma Informed Community. We understand more than ever before about the impact of trauma on children and adults. In fact, people who experience toxic stress are more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses throughout their lives. What does a Guilford County that focuses on providing trauma informed care look like? What is the road map for getting there? And how might we get started?
- Mindset Shifts. The vast majority of brain development happens during the first 2,000 days of life (up to age five). What is the current mindset about young children in Guilford County? How much does our community know today about the importance of the earliest years and how critical the first give years of life are to everything that happens later in life? How might we build additional, collective support for focusing on the first five years?
- Social-Emotional Health. The health and well-being of child care professionals have a big effect on the children in their care. What are the root causes of provider stress? How might we proactively address those root causes, while building a supportive community?
- Assets and Gaps in Childcare. Approximately 1/3 of children in Guilford County under the age of five are in licensed childcare settings, and 1/3 are at home with family members receiving high-quality care. However, 1/3 are not getting what they need in order to be ready for kindergarten. What are the assets and gaps in our childcare system and how might we reach more families who would benefit from having their children in high-quality care settings? What barriers–including costs and wages–need to be addressed?
- Families as Change Agents. Families are their children’s first teacher and can also be powerful change agents in communities. What would it take for more families with young children to become comfortable serving as advocates for their child and change agents within Guilford County?
Other teams are exploring how they can build literacy reach environments within the neighborhoods in which they work, how a new effort might encourage more free play among young children while also spreading the word about kindergarten readiness with families, and how to bring the community together to build awareness around preventing child abuse and neglect.
We’re so excited about the great work of these teams and how they’re working together to drive results. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks!