It will be no surprise to parents of young children that a recent survey conducted across Alaska found that 57% of parents find it difficult to find child care for their children. And 60% said it was because child care just isn’t available, 38% said it is because of cost, and 30% said it is because of the level of quality.
This is just a snippet of what more than 150 participants learned at No Small Matter: A Summit on the Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning in Alaska, held in Anchorage on October 10th. Every two years, thread and its partners, including Best Beginnings, bring together early childhood experts, advocates, policymakers, and business and community leaders for a day of information, storytelling, networking, and design thinking around the issue of early care and learning for Alaska. The “Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning in Alaska” report is updated by the McDowell Group and released during each Summit.
The keynote speaker this year, Rachel Giannini, energized Summit participants with her powerful message that preschool is NOT babysitting and underscored all the reasons the early years are so important for a child’s growth and development. Ms. Giannini is featured in the documentary film “No Small Matter” that was screened at the Bear Tooth October 9th as part of the Summit. She is a former preschool teacher who is traveling around the country to promote the film and help kick-start the public conversation across the country on the importance of investing in early care and learning, and what children need to thrive. More about the film and campaign is available here.
To set the stage for the day, Trevor Storrs, Alaska Children’s Trust, provided a great deal of data about children and families living in Alaska. The information is very accessible and easy to understand. Did you know, for example, that the national Kids Count report ranks Alaska 45th in the nation on the well-being of children?
Credit Union 1 shared successes and challenges in how the company supports families, including providing an on-site child development center at one of their locations. Another presentation featured Tonja Rucker of National League of Cities, Representative Zack Fields, and Mayor Beth Weldon of the City of Juneau, who discussed innovative solutions around early childhood education at national, state, and local levels.
At the conclusion of the Summit, the participants, a rich mix of policymakers, municipal and state government, businesses, funders and foundations, early education sector, library, medical and health professionals, K-12, and higher education, made individual commitments to take action.
Presentations/powerpoints plus the agenda and speaker bios are online at: https://www.threadalaska.org/thread/business-community/early-care-education-summit