La comunidad acepta el reto de asegurar el éxito de los niños en el condado Guilford (Qué Pasa)

Escrito por ADRIANA BENÍTEZ

Greensboro, 25 de mayo.- La iniciativa comunitaria Listos para la Escuela, Listos para la Vida reunió el martes a representantes del Condado de Guilford en el Greensboro Airport Hotel para compartir los logros de 12 equipos, que apenas un poco más de 100 días atrás, aceptaron el reto de comenzar a identificar y derribar barreras que impiden que más niños estén debidamente preparados para iniciar con éxito su educación escolar.

Los 150 miembros que dijeron manos a la obra incluyeron representantes de 44 agencias, organizaciones, y negocios que junto a padres y voluntarios comunitarios trataron temas que tienen inherencia en el desarrollo de los niños durante sus primeros años de vida, incluyendo la educación a los padres, el alfabetismo, el acceso a cuidado de calidad y costeable, y la lactancia, entre otros.

El trabajo, que comenzó el 4 de febrero en la Cumbre de la Primera Infancia, dio vida a programas pilotos que los grupos ya pusieron en prueba.  Entre estos se encuentra el Sistema de Referido Electrónico, un esfuerzo apoyado por 15 organizaciones que busca mejorar la comunicación entre las agencias que ofrecen servicio a padres y niños en edad pre-escolar y las personas a las que sirven. También se lanzó una iniciativa entre la Allen Jay Elementary en High Point y el Staley Head Start Child Development Center para facilitar la transición de los niños que se preparan para pasar de un ambiente pre-escolar a uno más estructurado en el kindergarten.

“Siempre he dicho que hay un largo camino por recorrer para asegurar que los niños puedan desarrollarse a plenitud en la primera etapa de su vida y que estén listos para iniciar con éxito su educación, pero basado en lo que he visto que la comunidad puede lograr en solo 100 días, no tengo duda de que lograremos nuestras metas”, dijo Mary Herbenick, directora de la coalición comunitaria refiriéndose al impacto de los recientes esfuerzos.

Esta coalición cuenta con el apoyo de la Fundación Cemala, la Fundación Joseph M. Bryan, la Fundacion Weaver y Cone Health, entre otros.

En la foto, de izq a derecha, Amber Robinson, Rachael Burrello y Damaris Johnson, representantes de la comunidad que formaron parte de unos de los 12 equipos que aceptaron el reto. Equipo: Familias como Agentes de Cambio

Ready for School, Ready for Life presents 100 day challenges (The Carolina Peacemaker, May 26)

 

By Yasmine Register

Staff Writer

Community members who pledged to help break down early childhood education barriers met at the Greensboro Airport Marriott on Tuesday, May 24 to share how they have addressed those challenges.

The initiative, spearheaded by Ready for School, Ready for Life, asked people to team up and come up with ways to help Guilford County children be prepared for school.

Twelve teams implemented a 100 day challenge or plan on a variety of early childhood topics including: early literacy, family engagement, developmental screenings, high-quality child care, safe and stable homes, parenting education, improving referral processes, Pre-K to Kindergarten transition, social-emotional supports for early childhood educators, building a breastfeeding-friendly community, and boosting public will around early childhood education.

“We have a lot of great community recommendations from this project,” said Mary Herbenick, executive director of Ready for School, Ready for Life. “We’re pulling together all the plans to see what is implementable right away.”

The work started at the Get Ready Guilford Early Childhood Summit back in February, when Ready for School, Ready for Life unveiled its strategic plan for achieving better outcomes in early childhood development, which covers birth to age five.

One hundred and fifty community members and early childhood education advocates came together to research and understand root causes of education disparities, while evaluating best practices and analyzing local data. Some teams designed strategies to address the actual problems, while others launched pilot programs to test their proposed strategies.

One of the pilot programs is an electronic referral network, which brought together 15 organizations to improve data sharing among service providers with families.

“Many families are not aware of the resources available in the community and many who do have difficulty accessing them,” said Robin Britt, executive director of Guilford Child Development. “Service providers need the ability to communicate and coordinate with other agencies to connect families with the services they need and to do so in a safe and protected manner. The electronic referral network is a step in the right direction.”

Parent participants discussed how difficult it is to connect quality, accessibility and affordability together when searching for childcare centers. Ashley Allen, a compensation and work environment specialist at EQuIPD (Education, Quality Improvement & Professional Development) noted that childcare centers often have minimal resources to offer certain services and many parents can’t afford the high fees associated with higher quality childcare centers. According to EQuIPD data, it can cost a parent at least $455 a month in Guilford County for infant childcare.

Another challenge team created a virtual reality tour to help parents and children understand the pre-K to Kindergarten transition. Milton Jordan, with Guilford Child Development discussed the importance of guiding children through the transition from pre-K to Kindergarten.

“I think people underestimate the social and emotional benefits from a head-start program,” said Jordan. “Talking to kids about the new experience, the new environment and giving them a push is getting the kids ready for what is expected of them.”

According to Ready for School, Ready for Life, children with high-quality early childhood experiences during the first 2,000 days of life have higher reading and math scores, become more financially self-sufficient, and are five times less likely to be chronic criminal offenders by age 27 than their peers.

What participants believed was unique to the Ready for School, Ready for Life initiative is that parents were asked to contribute ideas and opinions. Nine families participated in the Photovoice Project, where they met and shared their experiences of raising children in Guilford County, and to make recommendations for the community. Photos taken by the families for the Photovoice Project were on display at Tuesday’s community event.

“It felt good to be a part of active change in our communities,” said Damaris Johnson, a parent who led a 100-day challenge team that focused on safe and affordable housing and financial literacy. “All these solutions were heartfelt and personal.”

The greater Guilford County community is encouraged to join action teams or create their own teams with a 100 day challenge.

“I encourage the community to research and learn what is facing us in the area of early childhood education. To really break down those barriers and be successful, we need everyone in,” said Herbenick.

For more information on Ready for School, Ready for Life and the 100 Day Challenges, visit getreadyguilford.org

Too Small to Fail

recent op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof is a great example of early childhood investment getting national attention. Kristof presents a compelling argument in his The New York Times article, “Too Small to Fail” (a play on words about rescued banks who were “too big to fail”).

Using references to the work of James Heckman, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Roger Thurlow, Kristof makes the argument that we should be investing in children as early as possible, preferably during the prenatal period. He stresses the importance of preschool, but points out that preschool may be too late to intervene with children who are impacted by poverty. One example he uses is the vast spoken word disparity–30 million words–between households of professionals and families on welfare.

What seems to make Kristof view the early childhood period with such intensity is recent brain development research that has revealed how rapidly the human brain develops during the first 2,000 days.

You can view the entire article here.

Also in the news this week is the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book. This valuable resource details state trends in child well-being. Positive findings include a rising high school graduation rate and a reduction in births to teen mothers. However, reading further, the KIDS COUNT data book outlines the areas where improvement is needed and breaks down the data by shaded thematic maps of the US.

Calling all families with children under age 8! Join the Family Action Learning Team

Families from across Guilford County are invited to the first meeting of the Family Action Learning Team (ALT) on April 25 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This is one opportunity to be part of the change to make sure more Guilford County children enter kindergarten ready for school and for success.

The Family ALT will meet each month to:

  1. Create strategies for our community to better support families in getting their children ready for kindergarten, and get involved in the action.
  2. Connect with other families and learn more about what’s offered in Guilford County for families.
  3. Connect to resources, skill building, and information that improves families’ lives—and that you can share with other families!

All parents/caregivers with a child under the age of 8 are invited to participate! Bring a friend.

WHEN: Monday, April 25th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: First meeting will be held in Greensboro; please RSVP for details (see below)

FREE REFRESHMENTS AND CHILD CARE WILL BE PROVIDED.

SPACE IS LIMITED, so please RSVP to Rachael to reserve your spot and receive final location information. Call (336) 273-0247 or send an email to rachaelb@getreadyguilford.org. Please provide a contact phone number, and let us know: (1) number and ages of children you are bringing with you; and (2) if you will need an interpreter/translator

Spread the word! We look forward to seeing you on April 25th

 

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net (Vlado, Image ID: 10065814)

100-Day Challenge Team Progress!

Change is underway in Guilford County! Participants in February’s Early Childhood Summit joined 100-Day Challenge Teams with each team addressing one part of the Ready for School, Ready for Life framework.  The goal? To address system barriers that keep Guilford County children from achieving success in school.

Teams are using the ABLe Change Framework, a systems change approach that helps communities more effectively address significant social issues. They’ve used the ABLe Change action learning process along the way — DEFINE the problem, DESIGN powerful strategies, DO the work through effective implementation, and LEARN along the way.

  • Six teams are working together to define systems issues. Each team is addressing a key area — early literacy, parenting education, developmental screenings, social-emotional health of early childhood professionals, financial literacy, and access to high-quality child care. They’re collecting data to better understand the current situation, looking at national best practices, assessing the need versus what’s currently available in Guilford County, and identifying opportunities to make system improvements. Teams will share what they’ve learned about assets and gaps that will inform our next steps in providing supports and opportunities to families with young children in each area.
  • Others are starting to design strategies. After defining the problem using available local data, teams have started designing strategies in three areas: encouraging more breast-feeding friendly practices, improving policies/practices related to transition from preschool to kindergarten, and building a culture that values and encourages kindergarten readiness. Teams will share those strategies and make recommendations about implementation.
  • Teams in the “do” phase are testing the strategies they’ve designed. One is piloting a program to improve communication between preschool and kindergarten classrooms to make the transition to kindergarten easier for children, teachers, and parents. Another group — led by parents — is launching the Family Action Learning Team whose members will be decision-makers and consultants to the Ready/Ready work moving forward. A third is piloting an Electronic Referral System designed to make it easier for families to get connected with needed services — and for service providers to make sure those connections happen.
  • Each team is learning along the way. These lessons will be shared at the 100-Day Challenge Celebration on May 24 along with recommendations for moving the work forward.

This has been a big commitment for Challenge Team members, and they’re doing great work together. Stay tuned for more about the small wins teams have logged and the lessons learned.

How Investing in Youth Curbs Poverty: Experts agree that ending poverty starts with successful brain development in infants and toddlers.

By Kris Perry, Executive Director, First Five Years Fund (Posted from Media Planet; Education and Career News)

This election season, we are hearing from local, state and federal candidates about the need to expand opportunity or address poverty in this country in a meaningful way. It’s a complex issue that will require complex solutions.

But the one thing we know for sure is that our elected officials should all begin with the baby steps of making sure low-income children have access to quality early childhood education, from birth to age 5. These early learning experiences prepare children for school by forming the foundational skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in the classroom and beyond.

Busy little brains

The science is clear and compelling. Motor skills, literacy and numeracy, analyzing, vocabulary and speech are all made possible through new connections between neurons in the brain. Seven-hundred of these connections are formed every second in the first three years of life, through interaction with parents and caregivers. Unfortunately, children living in poverty are least likely to have exposure to these experiences and early learning. Every parent wants to do right by their child, but not every parent has the time, resources or tools without some help and guidance.

Without these opportunities, children begin school well behind their peers, and as the evidence shows, many kids never catch up. Children from more affluent families are, on average, exposed to 30 million more words than children from low-income families. And this disparity goes beyond words to gaps in critical social and emotional skills such as attentiveness, impulse control, persistence and teamwork—all the skills necessary for effective, lifelong learning.

Breaking the cycle

Therefore, if we want to set our most vulnerable children on the path to break the cycle of poverty, we must first ensure that each child has the opportunity to arrive at kindergarten with the foundational skills they need to succeed—through programs such as home visiting, high quality child care and development and prekindergarten.

When children participate in high quality programs there are gains in achievement and decreases in behavior problems, grade repetition and special education, which are followed by increases in high school graduation rates, increased earnings, decreased crime and better health outcomes. By some estimations, we see a 26 percent increase in adult earnings and the ability to prevent chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The political front

As candidates for office spell out their plans to support children and families, reduce poverty and create opportunity, investing in quality early childhood education should be a top policy priority. The good news is, investing in early childhood is emerging as the one bipartisan issue in a deeply polarized society. Governors from red and blue states alike are making significant investments in early learning. The U.S. Congress has found bipartisan agreement on increasing funding for existing programs and creating new ones. In fact, 75 percent of voters say we should invest more—or equally—in early education over college. But more needs to be done.

Anyone who wants to fight poverty can walk that talk by making sure low-income children have access high-quality early childhood education. Baby steps are giant steps toward shared prosperity.

Big Progress, Short Timeframe: 100-Day Challenge Team Update

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.

The Challenge

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!

Taking Aim at PreK Learning: Local advocates are working to find ways to provide quality, affordable childcare (News & Record, February 22, 2016)

BY MARQUITA BROWN

Marquita.brown@greensboro.com

When recent winter storms led to school closings and icy roads, Rhonda Stewart of Greensboro had no choice but to take off from work without pay and stay home to care for her toddler, Madison.

Such emergency care isn’t the only child care concern facing the young working mother.

Stewart, 23, worries about being able to keep Madison in affordable, quality care that will prepare her for kindergarten. Madison attends Head Start, which ends about 2 p.m., several hours before Stewart typically leaves work. Stewart also takes classes at Guilford Technical Community College.

A report recently released by the local coalition Ready for School, Ready for Life underscores many local families’ struggles with similar concerns. The coalition aims to transform Guilford County’s early childhood development system.

A growing amount of research supports the importance of the lessons and skills children learn before age 5, when the brain grows the fastest.

The early education and the quality of care children receive impacts their long-term academic success. Researchers tie the early education and development to a child’s chances of graduating high school, later upward mobility and closing achievement gaps.

But for some families, issues such as high costs, lack of transportation, work schedules or lack of information block their access to quality early education and care. They find viable solutions difficult to come by.

Another issue is low pay for teachers at child care centers. Despite research supporting the importance of their work, those teachers typically get paid little more than minimum wage—about $10 an hour. Those salary levels have not significantly increased in about 25 years even though child care costs have doubled.

The challenges are not unique to Guilford County.

Issues of access and affordability of high quality child care exist across the country. Nationally, fewer than 30 percent of 4-year-olds are in high quality care, according to a White House report.

In Guilford County, though, local business leaders, educators, parents, and advocates are working on ways to start chipping away at barriers to early education.

They had conversations earlier this month at a conference sponsored by Ready for School, Ready for Life. The groups plan to reconvene in May to talk about the “small wins” or early results from the efforts they began in the 100 days after the conference.

Those efforts will be concrete, tangible and implementable, said Mary Herbenick, executive director of Ready for School, Ready for Life and author of the report. Those initial successes will help more people want to get involved, she said.

“Our community agrees that we want each child to start school on the best possible track,” Herbenick said. There are long-term costs for the community and for the country as a whole when that doesn’t happen, she said.

For the Ready for School report, more than 300 local residents talked about their dreams for their children, as well as what does and doesn’t work related to raising children younger than 5 in Guilford County. Stewart was one of those residents.

The Ready for School research doesn’t just focus on child care. It notes other developmental challenges local children and their families experience, such as poverty, lack of transportation, unstable housing and insufficient health care.

Children who start kindergarten behind their peers tend to struggle to catch up.

Most students starting kindergarten in Guilford County Schools—between 50 and 60 percent—show reading readiness at the start of that firs year, said Whitney Oakley, executive director of preK-5 curriculum for the school system.

But about 1 in 5 Guilford kindergarteners—about 1,000 children—requires remediation, according to the Ready for School report.

Students undergo assessments to gauge basic skills of text reading and comprehension, understanding parts of a book and that they read from left to right.

Some children start school with exposure to thousands more words than their peers, Oakley said. The difference is monumental compared to those who may not start school with the same level of skills, she said.

Children who “have the opportunity to attend prekindergarten and preschool programs are better equipped, both socially and academically, when they come to school in kindergarten,” Oakley said. “We want to expand on that opportunity.”

The partnership between Guilford County and Say Yes to Education could offer an opportunity to better connect those early education programs to the K-12 public school system.

When students are lacking skills, when they start school behind, it’s more difficult to catch them up. Prevention is easier than intervention.

Local advocates argue the benefits of quality early education and care far outweigh the costs. Having a better educated work force helps with attracting businesses and economic viability.

But the cost of child care remains a significant issue for families.

Quality child care can cost more than $600 a month, depending on the child’s age, or about $7,200 a year—more than tuition and fees at most colleges in the UNC system. Care for infants and toddlers can cost about $900 a month, according to the report.

“If you can afford to pay the tuition of high quality care, you have some choices,” said Nicole McCaskill, an early care and education professional.

Many parents don’t. of an estimated 37,562 children younger than 5 in Guilford County, 28 percent of them life in poverty, according to the Ready for School report.

Receiving a quality early education and care should be viewed as a right just like with K-12 public schools, McCaskill said

“What’s the difference between that 4-year-old and 5-year-old besides a birthday?” she asked. “They still need a quality education.”

There are some options for families to get assistance with child care costs, but the need is greater than the available resources.

In North Carolina, 956 children younger than 5 are on the wait list for child care subsidies, the Ready for School report stated. More than 80 percent are younger than 3.

Stewart is on a couple of wait lists for help with child care costs. She had been on one of those lists for almost a year only to learn in January that she was removed and would have to be added back and wait all over again.

She recently started working a job where she and other employees have rotating shifts. Stewart has had to switch shifts with other employees in order to pick Madison up from Head Start, something she said she can’t continue to do. Stewart said she wants stable hours and to be able to spend more time with Madison when the girl is not in school. Ideally, Stewart said, she would be able to get a nanny or someone to pick up her daughter from Head Start and care for her until she or Madison’s father gets off work.

When she researched the costs, Stewart found nannies charge about $10 an hour—just about $1 less than she earns.

Stewart said she doesn’t want to settle for a cheap place where Madison won’t learn. She wants her daughter to be safe. She wants to keep Madison in Head Start, but worries about whether that will continue to be possible.

“I may be in a better situation where I’m not eligible for Head Start again,” Stewart said. “I don’t want that.”

In about four years, when Madison is old enough to start kindergarten, Stewart said she wants her to be ready. She wants her to be comfortable in the school environment and to start having positive learning experiences from Day 1.

“I just want her to be ahead in her class,” she said, “and it starts early.”

Contact Marquita Brown at (336) 373-7002, and follow @mbrownNR on Twitter.

Education Summit: Ready for School, Ready for Life (The Carolina Peacemaker, February 11)

By Yasmine Regester, Staff Writer

A community wide effort to transform the early childhood system in Guilford County is underway.

Ready for School, Ready for Life hosted its first Get Ready Guilford Early Childhood Summit on Thursday, February 4 at the Koury Convention Center, along with more than 400 service providers and advocates for children and families.

Ready for School, Ready for Life is a community initiative developed out of the idea that building a solid education for students in Guilford County that will produce a skilled workforce that can sustain the local economy for years to come.

“This is about getting agencies and organizations in education all working together on the same page,” said Mary Herbenick, executive director of Ready for School, Ready for Life.

Featured speakers for the kickoff event included: Kathleen Gallagher, Ph.D., a scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and clinical associate professor at UNC-Chapel Hill; Ralph Smith, senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and managing director for The Campaign for Grade Level reading; and Dr. Pennie Foster-Fishman, professor and senior outreach fellow at Michigan State University and a national systems-change expert.

Dr. Kathleen Gallagher noted that positive early childhood experiences coupled with social, emotional and cognitive development are important towards school readiness.

“A common fact is that brain development comes during the early stages of life, so we cannot deny those positive experiences. We have to start prenatally by making sure babies are healthy and making sure families get what they need, so the children get what they need,” said Gallagher.

The vision for this new initiative is to build a model around what is needed for early childhood development in Guilford County. The group’s steering committee spent the last year collecting data and research from 230 families in Guilford County on what is important to them in the educational system.

Nine families from the focus groups also participated in a Photovoice Project, where they met and shared their experiences of raising children in Guilford County, and to make recommendations to the community. Photos taken by the families for the Photovoice Project were on display at the education summit.

“This was an opportunity to share our life experiences and concerns with a group that understand and supports you,” said Photovoice participant, Tratricia Bovill, who added she was concerned about community safety. “I have to work to provide for my children, but if I’m not around, I’m constantly worrying if they are safe,” she said.

In the afternoon, attendees participated in interactive sessions to design and launch “100-Day Challenges” or plans that will have an impact in the lives of 37,062 children age five and under in Guilford County. The groups will present the results of the challenges in May.

Foster-Fishman was also one of the experts brought in to assist with the development of Guilford County’s Ready for School, Ready for Life initiative. She and Joan Blough, another systems-change expert from Michigan State University, facilitated training to start the 100-Day Challenges.

“We want to make sure we’re getting to the root cause of the problem and not just treating the symptoms,” said Foster-Fishman.

Ready for School, Ready for Life co-chair and vice-president of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, Ed Kitchen, along with Cone Health, The Cemala Foundation, a host of other local foundations helped launch this effort to combine the county’s early childhood development resources last year.

“Health is critical to successful development, especially in the first 2,000 days,” noted Kitchen.

According to Ready for School, Ready for Life, children with high-quality early learning experiences during the first 2,000 days of life, have higher reading and math scores; become more financially self-sufficient; and are five times less likely to be chronic criminal offenders by age 27 than their peers.

Gallagher notes that Ready for School, Ready for Life focuses on all areas of childhood development.

“Guilford has put together a model that can support children for years to come. Guilford has a lot of talent, and bringing it together for such an important cause as this is beautiful,” said Gallagher.

For more information, visit www.GetReadyGuilford.org.

El proyecto listos para la escuela, listos para la vida en el condado Guilford: 2,000 dias para asegurar el futuro exito de su nino (Que Pasa, Febrero 11 – 17)

By Hernando Ramirez-Santos

Brandon de 9 anos y Harold de 4 anos son la vida de Daniela Nava, quien como madre, ha tratado de darles el mejor cuidado en sus primeros anos de vida. Pero ella sabe que hay una gran diferencia en la forma como inicio la crianza de su primer hijo hace 9 anos, como madre primeriza, a la experiencia que ha tenido con su segundo nino.

“Uno no sabe nada como mama primeriza”, afirma Nava, quien hace nueve anos llego embarazada a Greensboro procedente de La Masa, un pueblo del estado de Guerrero en Mexico, a comenzar una nueva vida con su esposo en un pais extrano y sin el conocimiento del idioma ingles.

Como Nava, un elevado numero de madres primerizas, especialmente de las minorias, no tiene a su disposicion acceso a las herramientas basicas que las ayuden desde el embarazo a saber como cuidar de sus hijos para que estos puedan desarrollarse a plenitud en la primera etapa de su vida y esten debidamente preparados para iniciar con exito su educacion escolar.

Pensando en lo diferente que humieran podido ser las cosas con su primer hijo Brandon hace 9 anos, y por todas la dificultades que ha pasado con l debido a sus problemas de salud que han afectado su nivel de aprendizaje en la escuela. Nava accedio a participar en una gran encuesta y un proyecto que lidera la organizacion del condado Greensboro Ready for School, Ready for Life (Listos para la Escuela, Listos para la Vida).

“Y ocomo (inmigrante) mexicana tenia miedo de participar porque uno no sabe que problemas pueda traer”, dijo Navas, pero pensando en Brandon, decidio dejar a un lado el miedo y compartir sus experiencias para ayudar a otras mamas latinas.

“Mi moto fue mi hijo”, aseguro.

Esta coalicion de representantes de la comunidad entre los que se encuentran la Fundacion Cemala, la Fundacion Joseph M. Bryan y Cone Health. Ianzo esta iniciativa el ano pasado con el objetivo de buscar que todos los ninos en el condado Guilford esten realmente preparados para comenzar con exito la escuela.

La importancia de que un nino inici la primaria con las majores bases, tendra un sustancial impacto en el exito que pueda tener en su vida como estudiante y luego como adulto. “Solo hay 2,000 dias desde el momento que el o ella Ilegan al kindergarten y es durante este tiempo que se plantan las bases de todo su futuro aprendizaje”, dijo Susan Schwartz, directora ejecutiva del la Fundacion Cemala.

El pasado jueves 4 de febrero, se celebro en el Centro de Convenciones Koury de Greensboro una Cumbre de la Primera Infancia, con le participacion de mas de 400 personas, representates de entidades privadas, publicas y comunitarias, donde se discutio el estado de la primera infancia en Guilford y las vias practicas quese deberan tomar para el beneficio de los infantes en el condado, desde el periodo prenatal hasta los cinco anos.

Adamas se dieron a conocer los resultados de la encuesta realizada entre 221 familias que tienen ninos menores de ocho anos, para entender que funciona y que no, cuando se esta preparando a los ninos para entrar al kindergarten.

Y el mensaje de Daniela Nava, como madre hispana immigrante, se esta tomando en cuenta para crear un major sistema de desarrollo temprano del infante que se adapte a las necesidades de las familias de hoy. Para que estas tengen un facil acceso a la informacion y los servicios que permitan el sano credimiento de sus ninos.

“Hay un rol para todos en las comunidad para asgurarnos que los ninos estan en el camino correcto, que estamos construyendo familias que reciben y dan apoyo, y para construir un sistema de la primera nfancia mas innovador y positivo”, dijo Mary Herbenick, directora ejecutiva de Ready for School, Ready for Life.

Herbenick aseguro a Que Pasa, gue la inciativa esta consciente de las grandes barreras que enfrenta la comunidad inmigrante hispana en el condado Guilford por el idioma, la falta de estatus migratorio de muchos de ellos y sus capacidades economicas limitadas.

“Nuestro objetivo es ayudar a todas las familias y estamos teniendo en cuenta sus necesidades”, dijo Herbenick.

En la Cumbre se presento la exhibicion Photovoice, un proyecto del cual hizo parte Navas, quien fue escogida junto a otras nueve familias, para contar sus experiencias criando a sus hijos a traves de fotografias y relatos.

Etos relatos son parte fundamental para identificar las necesidades de las familias.

Navas, en una foto que tomo a los dos hijos de una amiga suya, explica qu ella decidio trabajar de 7 p.m. a 7 a.m., porque asi podia estar durante el dia con sus ninos en vez de tenr que dejarlos al cuidado de alguien mas, como un ejemplo de la falta de seguridad y confianza entre la comunidad.

Segun datos suministrados por Reeady for School, Ready for Life, en el condado Guilford viven 37,062 ninos menores de 5 anos. El 28.5 por ciento de estos menores viven en hogares con una econmia por debajo del nivel de pobreza y l 61 por ciento de las familias con ninos menores de 5 anos necesitan servicio de guarderia porque son padres solteros o ambos padres trabajan o estudian.

Pueden encontrar mas informacion sobre la iniciativa Ready for School, Ready for Life en el sitio www.getreadyguilford.org llamando al (336) 274-5437.