We want to thank all of you for coming out after work hours in the storm last Thursday to meet with us. You all are truly devoted professionals. Thanks for all that you do in support of young children and families. I want to especially thank Susan for pulling this meeting together and to Patsy for hosting us.
This is my attempt at summarizing what came from the meeting last Thursday. Please let me know if I have mischaracterized or left anything out. There were a couple of people in attendance who do not have an email address, and there may be others who were invited, but were not able to attend for one reason or another. Please share this information with them. Your feedback about my summary and about possible further actions is greatly appreciated.
After seeing the video "Change the First 5 Years" and looking at the Early Childhood Policy Platform participants discussed what this policy might mean for residents of Carlsbad. The policy was seen as making it possible to have more slots available for children to participate in child care programs, to keep costs reasonable, and to allow small centers to stay in business. Participants also felt that implementation of this policy would make more training available and motivate centers to become accredited. There was some concern expressed about the cost of accreditation and some ideas were proposed about how the state could help with that. In addition, attendees saw the policy as providing opportunities to promote parenting skills and supports. Ideas that came to mind included integrating child development information into the school curriculum, working collaboratively with the schools to encourage parent involvement, and providing supports and resources for parents.
When asked how they thought the community as a whole would respond to the platform the consensus seemed to be that parents and community members truly care about the well being and development of children, but may not stop to think about how the policy would impact the community. Participants did state that more people would work in there was more help for child care and that certainly would impact the economics.
In considering what could be done in Carlsbad to promote the policy platform and build constituency to support early childhood efforts, participants came up with several ideas. The faith community already works to promote quality early childhood. It was not clear (at least in my notes) whether the church already has a 5 year plan or could use one. But such a plan would include family retreats and parenting classes in conjunction with religious training. The thought was that other groups and/or churches could sponsor similar activities. There was some discussion of trying to bring back school activities that involve parents and to making things at schools more parent friendly. One organization sends out a newsletter with good resources for parents on a regular basis; it was suggested this newsletter be more widely distributed. Participants also suggested parent information corners in schools, libraries, community centers, and businesses. The idea of having business identify themselves as child friendly with a sign in the window was well received. There was some discussion of engaging service clubs to help with sharing the work and costs associated with these ideas. Attendees also talked about Carlsbad Community Day and the Week of the Young Child. Both of these are seen as opportunities to 'get the message out" and build constituency.
We left by saying we would get more handouts to Susan so that she can distribute them to other child care providers and supporters. In addition, we will send a form to help think about unlikely partners who can share the work and support efforts to improve the quality of life for young children in the community. These will be sent shortly. If there is anything we can do to help you build a strong network or implement ideas, please let us know. We will be happy to come back and support your efforts in whatever way seems appropriate.