ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED: Bryan Family Foundation, The Cemala Foundation, Guilford County Partnership for Children, NC Early Childhood Foundation, Ready for School, Ready for Life Steering Committee Members
COMMUNITY PROBLEM: Lack of understanding about the importance of the first 2,000 days (birth to age five).
CHALLENGE GOAL: Develop a plan to build public will for school readiness so that when community leaders make decisions about quality of life and a strong economy and workforce in Guilford County, their first priority is young children.
READY/READY FRAMEWORK ELEMENT ADDRESSED: RESPONSIVE & INNOVATIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM > Foundation for Community Capacity > Public demand for kindergarten readiness
PERSPECTIVES ENGAGED: Business leaders, nonprofit agencies and organizations
ACTIONS TAKEN & ASSOCIATED BEST PRACTICES
- Defined the local problem. Aligned with First 2,000 Days approach (website) used to build public will across North Carolina for early childhood engagement and investment. Identified groups who can influence policy decision makers in Guilford County and in the state of NC—business leaders, health care leaders, and faith leaders.
- Identify root causes of the problem. Mindset that what happens before a child enters kindergarten is the responsibility of a family, not the community; haven’t clearly communicated the community benefits of focusing on and investing in early childhood, i.e., those with high-quality early childhood experiences are more likely to read at grade level by third grade, more likely to graduate high school, less likely to be chronic criminal offenders as adults, etc.
- Leverage current assets. Identified engagement tools to implement action plan, including presentation, talking points, sources, fact sheets, pledges, commitment cards, and specific calls to action.
WHAT WE LEARNED
- The first step for any local or state policy action is building public will to create favorable conditions for change.
- People are ready and willing to step up to advocate; we just need to ask.
- Identified three target audiences that will be critical to engage — faith leaders, health care leaders, business leaders.
- Developed plan to engage community that will launch this summer.
- Establish a permanent community engagement team to help implement the plan.
- Ask the Steering Committee to engage their networks in building advocates for young children and their families.
- Review and reflect on accomplishments every six months, and revisit the plan to adapt it to community needs.