Partner Spotlight: YWCA High Point

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications

One hundred and one years ago, the YWCA High Point was formed. The organization is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

Today, the YWCA has seven core areas of programming: social justice and advocacy, women’s resource center, youth services, aquatics and wellness, teaching kitchen, Latino family center, and adolescent parenting.

Executive Director Heidi Majors has been with YWCA High Point almost 20 years, and said a big part of the focus is maternal health and ensuring that infants and toddlers in the greater High Point area are meeting the milestones and being prepared for school at age five.

“Our maternal health programs are so important,” Majors said. “In June 2020, YWCA began using the Parents As Teachers model, with case managers to work with the parents. YWCA High Point is expanding to have 5 Parent Educators to serve more parents.  One of these case managers works with adolescent parents under the age of 19. Through home visits and group education sessions, we focus on planning for their families, as well as making sure they have prenatal care to help with healthy birth outcomes.”

The Adolescent Parenting Program works to make a difference in the lives of young school-age mothers and fathers who are pregnant or parenting.  In addition to home visits and group education, the program offers mentors, school support sessions, college tours, and field trips.

Majors said Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) supported many of the YWCA’s adolescent parents during the pandemic. “That was an instrumental piece of how we lift up our high-risk communities and make sure they had what they needed. Whether that was food, diapers, or other essential items, we were able to do that thanks to Ready Ready and The Duke Endowment.”

YWCA High Point also supports families with infants and toddlers through Healthy Beginnings. It’s a personalized program for minority women and their children. Healthy Beginnings seeks to help young women have healthy pregnancies and healthy children and continue a healthy lifestyle between pregnancies.

Last year YWCA High Point served more than 1,000 parents with its Baby Basics closet – providing diapers, formula, clothing, and larger items like cribs and pack-n-play equipment. “We work very closely with agencies across Guilford County and the North Carolina Diaper Bank to ensure our infants and toddlers have this support. A parent won’t have to keep their child home from daycare because they don’t have diapers, for example, and they can go to work. It’s about lifting up the whole support system.”

Majors said the YWCA’s focus on social justice is designed to bring real change to the fight for gender equality and racial justice. In the time since the murder of George Floyd last summer, Majors is encouraged to see the conversation continue about systemic racism, racial equity, and social justice.

“In 2020, there has been an opportunity for people to be open, listen, and learn to educate themselves. Not everyone is receptive to that message, but through collaborations and partnerships, we’re looking at more systemic change,” Majors said. “Our Community Builders program, which we started in 2018, has trained individuals using the groundwater approach from the Racial Equity Institute. We’re fighting for racial equity because there are so many disparities within our communities. We’re addressing these disparities through a number of programs, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

To learn more about YWCA High Point, visit their website.

NC workforce registry system

NC workforce registry system survey

North Carolina (NC) is one of only nine states that currently does not have an EC/SA workforce registry system.  Planning for this registry is very important as it will position the State to bring individual and aggregated real-time data about early childhood and school age practitioners’ education, credentials, work locations and demographics into one place. An EC/SA Workforce Registry is an information system that:

  • Captures real time data about early childhood and out of school time (OST) practitioners in a variety of roles and settings.
  • Recognizes and honors professional achievements of the early childhood and school age workforce.
  • Promotes individual professional growth and development.
  • Is based on State career-level systems that provide a framework for professional development.

Having one integrated system where all early childhood workforce data can be housed will decrease the burden and frustration that educators and programs face having to input data in different places/systems. Because NC is often recognized as a leader in early childhood, the lack of a statewide integrated workforce registry is a long-standing need.  Once complete, not only will the data prove important to the state, but it will allow NC to participate in the national EC/SA workforce data pull that informs federal policy on young children. Please consider taking this survey and sharing your thoughts with us as well as share this with other early childhood and school age colleagues. The survey will remain open until June 11th at 5:00 p.m. EST.

There are two surveys available to take:

  1. An Administrator/Educator survey specific to early care and education/school-age program directors, center-based program staff, and family child care-based staff
  2. A General Stakeholder survey targeting the larger early childhood education and care system and its stakeholders (such as Higher Education, CCR&Rs, Training/Technical Assistance providers, etc.)

Please be sure to set your browser to Google Chrome or Firefox to access these surveys. You will need to copy and paste the link into your browser due to privacy/security protocols.  Please copy the link to the survey that best represents your professional position.

The Administrator/Educator survey is here:

The General Stakeholder survey is here:

Partner Spotlight: Center for the Study of Social Policy

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) works to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children, youth, and families thrive. Through community partners like Ready for School, Ready for Life, CSSP tests and shares lessons learned about innovative, comprehensive local early childhood systems across the country and advances policies that help parents succeed and young children flourish.

These partners are part of the CSSP’s Early Childhood Learning and Innovation Network (EC-LINC), which brings together communities across the country with the common goal of improving equitable outcomes for young children and developing a system that helps all young children and their families thrive.

“Ready for School, Ready for Life is one of 14 organizations that participate as learning partners. It’s a learning laboratory where system leaders at the community level learn from each other, share innovations, solve problems, and figure out how to make a stronger early childhood system, “said Ngozi Lawal, CSSP’s project director, prenatal-three initiative. Ready Ready joined the EC-LINC in 2018.

In Guilford County, CSSP is helping support Ready Ready to accomplish its prenatal to three agenda. “Guilford County has laid its PN-3 goals really clearly. For instance, the County is working to increase in HealthySteps usage, the pediatric intervention that helps more low-income families get access to parenting education, credible information about child development, and connections to needed resources,” Lawal said. “The foundation of all of this work is advancing racial equity and supporting parent and family engagement.”

“Ready Ready’s approach to universality, the premise that anyone, regardless of who you are, what you look like, what zip code you live in, can receive Navigation support is something that other jurisdictions can learn from because all families can receive support,” Lawal said. “When we take out the notion that only certain families need this support and just look at the humanity of having a baby and how hard that is, making the service available to everyone makes a difference and better supports families.”

Lawal says the prenatal-to-three work CSSP focuses on can be summed up in three areas: early care and education, family support, and health and mental health. On the early care and education front, she is encouraged by the Biden administration’s efforts to invest in better wages for early childhood educators, universal pre-k, and parental support. “Parents need high-quality child care. They need a place that is stimulating for their young children’s brains and teachers who are qualified and well-paid.”

Citing research that finds many early childhood educators in the workforce qualify for public assistance because of the historically low wages in the industry, Lawal added, “It’s a travesty. It’s an embarrassment for our country. The pandemic relief funds are a real opportunity to help raise the early childhood educators’ wages to help keep them in the workforce. It’s not just a good investment; it’s an investment that’s absolutely critical for the economic engine of the country.”

CSSP also helped Ready Ready develop the Guilford Parent Leader Network (GPLN), which was established as a decision-making body for Ready Ready. The group’s goal is to ensure that family voice is brought into every key decision as we work together to build an innovative, connected early childhood system in Guilford County.

“We shouldn’t have services without having had parents come to the table to have input on what the services look like,” Lawal explained. The Parent Leader Network brings together parents from across the country to collaborate, build leadership skills, advance racial equity, and advocate for change in their communities. Guilford County parent representatives were able to join the original group of Parent Leader Network representatives who developed the Manifesto for Race Equity & Parent Leadership in Early Childhood Systems, a document for early childhood agencies written by parents about parent and family leadership in early childhood systems.

Racial equity is a vital thread of CSSP’s work. With the anniversary of the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer, Lawal said she feels a sense of encouragement that the whole country is having a reckoning and that generally speaking, more people are willing to recognize that a problem exists, engage in conversation about it, and most importantly, beginning to develop the confidence to address it.

“You can’t address a problem until you agree there’s a problem,” Lawal said. “People are beginning to ask ‘what can I do at my level to make a difference?’ We are asking ourselves, “How can I educate myself, what can I learn so I can make better decisions, and what biases do I need to challenge?”