At the meeting we watched the video, Change the First 5 Years, and left a copy with Amanda who will burn copies for anyone wanting to use it. We looked at the policy platform and ways people can participate based on their comfort level and work restrictions. In addition handouts were left for distribution on what parents and community members can do to support the policy platform. There was some great brainstorming of who can and should be part of the advocacy efforts in the Roswell community. This included specific people as well as a number of organizations. There was also some discussion of funding and a general reading of community attitudes about early childhood care and education. Concerns were raised that we can do some great activities, but not make any significant changes. Participants were assured that these efforts are long term and not just for this election. What do we want in our communities for families and children? What does it look like? By 2020 we want everyone to be discussing the importance of the early years and how policies/actions will affect children. There was a consensus that we need to use good data and focus on the economic impact as we present the policy and try to garner support.
There is a desire to identify one person in the community who can take the lead in the ongoing advocacy efforts. A number of people were identified as potential coordinator. Emily will work with that list, make contacts, and try to identify someone who has the capacity and willingness to take on this leadership role. Emily will also get me names and contact information for all of those identified as being supporters of early childhood for our Roswell advocacy data base. Amanda agreed to present the policy to the mayor and city councilors. There is an annual Ohana (sp?) day that would be a great venue for informing and engaging parents. Amanda is to find out more about this event and how the advocacy group might be involved. The local fair (Oct. 3 - 8) was also identified as a venue for getting out information. Amanda will contact the appropriate people and try to get a booth that can be manned by students and others to distribute information. (Might it be possible to play the video at this table also?) The group also thought it would be helpful to have a reception for key players in the community. It will be in October by invitation only with RSVPs expected. The video will be shown and speakers that reflect the diversity of support will be engaged (thinking service clubs, health professionals, police/judicial). Amanda indicated she is willing to get this underway, but I'm sure she would welcome support and ideas. I believe the Birth to 5 NM/NMAEYC can support this with some money, though not large dollars.