Support for families, access to high quality child care and early education, safe spaces and appropriate activities – those are some of the needs for young children identified in nine Alaska communities.
The priorities were identified through community assessments conducted by early childhood partnerships as part of a year-long effort initiated and funded in part by Best Beginnings.
The priorities are still being refined, but common themes emerged around the following areas:
- Early care and education
- Family support
- Health and mental health
- Public engagement about early childhood
- Activities and facilities for young children
A big issue in nearly every community is better access to high quality, affordable child care. Another prevalent need is family support, such as systems, programs and activities to help families ward off isolation, take advantage of resources that are available, and form stronger relationships in the community.
The priorities are based on the partnerships’ analysis of the assets and needs in their communities. The next phase of their work is to develop two-year strategic plans for tackling the priorities.
Each partnership comprises members from a wide range of sectors and interests: business, faith-based, law enforcement, parks and recreation, early care and education, social services, and more.
The early childhood partnerships represent a new way of doing business: having local people identify local priorities around early childhood. They identify resources already in the community and leverage them with other outside funding. The community-oriented process is efficient and effective and can provide information to state level agencies about what is and isn’t working for early childhood.
The early childhood partnerships are in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Gustavus, Homer, Hoonah, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.