Happy New Year from your Ready/Ready team!
The holidays gave us the opportunity to reflect on 2017 — the triumphs and the tribulations, the small wins and the fast fails that are all important parts of Guilford County’s early childhood system-building work. As a learning organization, we relish the opportunity to look back as we prepare for an exciting 2018.
Get Ready Guilford Initiative. Last year was one of immense growth and change. The relationship with The Duke Endowment evolved into a true partnership through their significant and intentional investments of time, talent, and resources in service of building a more responsive, innovative early childhood system in Guilford County. Together, we built a Theory of Change (TOC) for the Get Ready Guilford Initiative that will guide our work over the next ten years. The TOC explains the desired population-level outcomes, how the effort will be evaluated, and how families with young children will be connected to resources for healthy child development starting with the prenatal period through age three (and beyond). Eight workgroups, each with local team members, are moving this work forward quickly and with great intention. Read more about Get Ready Guilford here.
Early Literacy Strategic Plan. A 25-member design team from 20 Guilford County organizations developed an Early Literacy Strategic Plan that will change how families, organizations, decision-makers, and volunteers are engaged in building language and early literacy skills starting at birth. At the invitation of Dr. Contreras, Superintendent of Guilford County Schools, Ready/Ready team members invested a week at the Public Education Leadership Program at Harvard to build upon the work of this design team and develop specific goals for improving literacy outcomes from birth to age eight. This work will continue for the next two years.
Family Engagement & Decision Making. The Family Action Learning Team, made up of families who serve as decision-makers and consultants to our system-building work, continues to thrive and drive our work. Team members have guided decisions about the Get Ready Guilford work, the Early Literacy Strategic Plan, family engagement strategies, and more. One team member presented with our staff at the NC Infant Mental Health Association conference, and the team will teach other communities about how to engage families in a workshop at the 2018 National Smart Start Conference in May.
Other Key Priorities. Teams continue to work on other key priorities, including building public will for Kindergarten readiness, making system-changes that will ensure a smooth transition from preschool to Kindergarten, and tackling the huge issue of how Guilford County can attract, engage, and retain the best talent in early learning child care settings. Read more about the progress these and other teams are making (PDF).
What’s Ahead. In 2018, our focus sharpens. We have significant goals to meet by the end of April to attract national investments that will help scale the Get Ready Guilford Initiative work. Implementation of the Early Literacy Strategic Plan becomes a key focus, as well as expanding family engagement efforts across Guilford. We are also launching Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) coaching with our partners at Root Cause, an effort to strengthen the data capability of programs serving families of young children.
As we gear up, a special thanks to everyone who has contributed to this system-building work over the past three years.
- To families and our agency/organization partners: How can we thank you enough for the time and talent you put into this effort on top of your regular roles? Together, we’ll continue to build toward the vision YOU developed for young children in our community two years ago. Let’s do this!
- To the Steering Committee (PDF): Thank you for continuing to show up, support and amplify the system-building work, while creating greater alignment to the community vision within your own organizations. You rock!
- To our local funders (PDF): Thank you for your continued support, which has laid the foundation for creating real change and additional regional and national opportunities. Your investment matters!
Together, we’re building a community that will be THE place where North Carolina families want to live, work, and raise children who will thrive at every stage of their development.
Are you ready?
– Mary, Rachael, Michelle & Christina