What happens when people work together on early childhood issues? The Mat-Su Valley is a prime example of teamwork producing far more than the sum of its parts.
The Early Childhood Partnership of Mat-Su was formally organized in 2009 with the support and assistance of Best Beginnings, but Linda Conover, who volunteers with Mat-Su Imagination Library and the partnership, goes on to say: “Even before the partnership, we were working closely together. But the partnership just gelled everything. Everybody works together really well.”
“The most exciting thing the Partnership offers Valley preschoolers is free monthly activities for families,” Conover said. “The partnership helps child care centers by giving them money for things they need: supplies, playground equipment. We pay for quite a few child care providers to go to the conference to improve child care in the Valley.”
The partnership includes Mat-Su Imagination Library, United Way of Mat-Su, Mat-Su Borough School District, CCS Early Learning, Mat-Su Public Health, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Mat-Su Services for Children & Adults (MSSCA), thread, and local child care providers.
When the Mat-Su School District received state funding for its Widening the Net Preschool, the district worked closely with CCS Early Learning, which runs Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the Valley. CCS Early Learning helped to screen the families interested in either program to ensure that services weren’t duplicated and that as many families as possible in the community had access to preschool.
“I give a lot of credit to Best Beginnings for funding and creating the local early childhood partnerships. We’ve all been working hard in our individual service areas, but we haven’t always done a great job of communicating, collaborating, and pooling our resources,” said Mark Lackey of CCS Early Learning.
“Families in the Valley now have a stronger safety net when it comes to early childhood. We have come together,” Lackey said. “Early childhood is such a difficult area because what individual children and families need during this period of time is quite varied.”
The partners work together in other ways, too. Widening the Net Preschool is offered at seven elementary schools in the district; Mat-Su Imagination Library enrolled all the children. And the school district was able to contribute funds to Imagination Library.
The partnership offers family fun events to promote healthy lifestyles and family activities, supports professional development of child care providers, organizes the annual Golden Apple Awards to recognize outstanding early childhood providers and family friendly businesses, and participates in the Mat-Su Family Celebration Festival and the Mat-Su Baby & Child Fair.
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue of the Best Beginnings E-newsletter. Please refer to ourContent Reproduction Policy if you are interested in reproducing content provided on this website.