Best Beginnings’ early child partnerships are making great progress in their communities. “By bringing together people with different perspectives and ideas, they are able to look at the big picture and organize in ways they couldn’t before,” said Jonathan Teeters, Partnerships Manager at Best Beginnings.
By definition, early childhood partnerships consist of people from a broad range of organizations and other individuals who take a systems approach to early childhood. A “systems approach” means taking a broader perspective and looking beyond a single program or specific service.
“We’re at an exciting point in the partnerships’ maturation,” Teeters said. “The initial organization is done and they’ve identified some of the most critical needs in their communities. Many of them are already knee-deep in meeting community needs.”
Most of the 10 partnerships used their second year of funding to build and strengthen their relationships, increase awareness of the importance of early childhood, invest in training for early childhood professionals, and leverage new partners and opportunities.
Some examples of how it works include:
- The Kodiak Early Childhood Coalition (KECC) is one of several communities to pilot a new home visitation program, which they’re calling Cama’i. Using Parents as Teachers as a delivery model, KECC is working closely with the Indian Child Welfare Act office, Foster Family Recruitment, the Child Advocacy Center, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Cama’i Advisory Council will be an extension of the KECC.
- In Anchorage, the Success By 6 partnership has taken on Ready for Kindergarten, a program run by the Anchorage School District for the past three years. Ready for Kindergarten helps parents of children birth to five prepare their children for kindergarten. Success By 6 will take a community-based approach that engages volunteers, parents, schools, and businesses.
- The Ilisaaq partnership in the Northwest Arctic Borough is building on the work of the Inupiaq Language Commission to organize playgroups for young children in Kotzebue and surrounding villages. The playgroup activities use developmentally appropriate early learning materials.
- Partnerships in four communities – Anchorage, Mat-Su, Fairbanks, and Juneau –recognize local businesses whose practices and policies support working parents through annual Family Friendly Workplace awards.
Ten early childhood partnerships have received grants from Best Beginnings to continue building early childhood systems in their communities. Continuing grants are going to partnerships in Kodiak, Juneau, Mat-Su, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Northwest Arctic Borough, Homer, Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Hoonah.