Investing in What Matters Most

 

By Jane Partridge
Project Coordinator
Visions for Early Learning

 
Food bank baskets filled with produce, a school library opened on a Saturday morning, and a magician waiting in the wings – all are an investment in nurturing resiliency in the small boy now listening to story-time with a farm-stand carrot held tightly in his hands.
 
Families and children playing and learning together, collaboration between college instructors and programs for the earliest of learners, and an interpreter to facilitate learning in the home language of families – all are investments in building family strengths within their own communities.
 
Early learning professionals exploring their beliefs around race, collaboration between early learning and school-age entities, home visitors learning about trauma and its effect on developing brains – all are investments in those whose work supports the creation of healthy and resilient communities.
 
This is how early learning childhood coalitions invest in what matters most: the investment in time, energy and hours of thoughtful planning by local and regional coalition members and their partnering and funding agencies.
 
All across our state, across regions and throughout counties, these same investments of time, funding and energy make up the work of local and regional early learning coalitions. These are groups brought together because of a common desire to make a difference in the lives of children and their families. Made up of volunteers from early learning fields, school districts and higher education, nonprofit and governmental agencies and the private sector, Washington state’s 10 Early Learning Regional Coalitions are an integral pathway to promoting healthy and resilient communities.
 

 
Visions for Early Learning, a regional coalition made up of five early learning coalitions from Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties, relies on strong local coalitions with partnerships with community colleges, local libraries, county health departments, United Way, Child Care Aware and Child Care Action Council, ECEAP/Head Start, school districts and Educational Service District 113, and invaluable local nonprofit agencies and organizations.
 
It is here that local coalitions know their value, where programs and activities are investments in strengthening the five protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social and emotional competence of children. It is here that the impact is hard to see but sometimes wonderfully easy to feel, where personal connections and knowledge of the community landscape can shape the development of a program so that the impacts are real, where working in partnership supports others to do more of what matters, where the return on our investment is real: resilient children, strong families and healthy and resilient communities.
 

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