January 2017 | ISSUE 29
This Early Childhood-LINC newsletter connects communities across the country as they build and strengthen systems to help children and families thrive. Click the box below and enter your email address in the Stay Informed box to sign up. 

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Los Angeles County Continues to Strengthen its Home Visiting System

Los Angeles County has made significant financial and organizational investments in its maternal and early childhood home visiting system over the past 15 years, with First 5 LA as the largest funder and a co-convener of the Los Angeles County Perinatal and Early Childhood Home Visitation Consortium.

The Consortium's efforts to increase coordination and quality in the areas of Data, Referrals, Best Practices and Advocacy got a boost in December when the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a motion calling for the development of "a plan to coordinate, enhance, expand, and advocate for high quality home visiting programs to serve more expectant and parenting families so that children are healthy, safe and ready to learn."
First 5 LA is part of a workgroup including the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the LA County Perinatal and Early Childhood Home Visitation Consortium and the Office of Child Protection, that will develop the plan over the next six months. The workgroup "will engage home visiting providers and county departments in establishing strategies for greater coordination, expansion and financing," explained Barbara Dubransky, First 5 LA's Director of Program Development. "The group is exploring how local resources could be maximized to increase funds for home visiting, particularly to serve high-risk populations."

Dubransky sees the motion as a demonstration of the county's commitment to bringing the system of home visiting services to scale in the county. "Optimizing resources includes ensuring families are engaged and are able to access the program that best suits their interests and needs, that program capacity is neither under nor over-utilized and that the system is well-coordinated and enjoys a high level of accountability for providing responsive quality services," said Dubransky. She added that the motion came about due to a variety of factors that helped to raise policymakers' awareness of and support for home visiting in recent years.
Resident Voices-and Photos-Shape Priorities in Palm Beach

The Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County (CSCPBC) recently conducted a  Community Needs Assessment  to identify health priorities and gaps in services for pregnant women, parents, infants and young children in Palm Beach County. To supplement data gathered from administrative data sets, surveys, telephone interviews and focus groups, CSCPBC used a methodology called PhotoVoice.

According to Jennifer Munoz, lead on the Assessment, "PhotoVoice is a powerful tool to hear from residents who don't often feel like they have a voice in community processes. Using a camera, residents tell us how they see their community, the strengths and deficits and things they may not have even noticed before because we become used to our surroundings." These photos were then shared as part of a larger community meeting where the residents spoke to the pictures and the meaning they attached to them.

Munoz continued, "PhotoVoice proved to be a different way to prompt a conversation that generated new insights into the needs of the communities we are trying to engage. Additionally, the photos illustrate the disparities we often only show with statistical data within Palm Beach County."

Findings of note in 2017 include affordable child care as the greatest need for parents with young children. Many parents also noted that they wanted more affordable community activities and social events and better access to parent support programs and health care services.

Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of CSCPBC, noted that although the national economy has improved, "this doesn't always trickle down to many of our communities. In fact, we are seeing an increase in community needs overall. This can be seen from the data we received directly from community residents."

The Community Needs Assessment is part of a strategic review process to improve CSCPBC's decisions regarding program funding; the findings are also shared with partners in order to help with community planning and programs for young children. A team of community stakeholders is now working to further review the local data, prioritize community needs, conduct root cause analysis and develop the Healthy Start Service Delivery Plan for 2018-2022.
Federal Report Shares Trove of Early Childhood System Resources

The Early Learning Interagency Policy Board (IPB) recently shared an overview of their activities, policy statements, and reports from 2010 to 2016. The IPB focused on improving the quality of early learning and development through collaboration and coordination across federal agencies from 2010 to the present. These many resources may help community early childhood system-builders learn new ways to form partnerships - across fields, backgrounds and funding streams - to ensure that all children get the strong start they need to succeed in school and in life.  Read more .
Survey: How have you used The Raising of America?

After releasing The Raising of America documentary series in 2015, the filmmakers are evaluating how the film is being used and the impact it is having. The five-episode series explores how a strong start for all our kids can lead to better individual outcomes and a healthier, safer, more prosperous and equitable America.

Now the filmmakers have shared 
The Raising of America survey  to learn how you've used the series to broaden the conversation around early childhood. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete and answers are anonymous. The filmmakers will share the results and lessons learned this summer. The survey is open until March 3.
Poverty, Race and Equity in Early Childhood
Equity in early childhood systems is of critical importance. More than 4.2 million American children under the age of 5 live in poverty, and young children of color are significantly more likely to experience poverty than their white peers. This means that young children of color are less likely to have access to opportunities and supports for learning and healthy physical and social-emotional development.
However, every person involved in an early childhood system can take steps to promote equity, no matter their role. In a recent webinar, Supporting Young Children: Addressing Poverty, Promoting Opportunity, and Advancing Equity , CSSP shared tools to support equity in early childhood.

The webinar examines the policies and systems that create and maintain racial disparities, disadvantaging millions of young children of color. It also offers steps to take at the policy and practice levels, and provides examples of these steps in action. It was presented for the Preschool Development Grants Technical Assistance community.

Healthy, Thriving Communities: Safe Spaces for Immigrant Children and Families

In the wake of new and proposed federal policy targeting immigrant families and communities, advocates and policymakers must be ready to defend effective policies and enact new ones that promote child and family well-being and advance our development as an inclusive nation. A new brief from CSSP, Healthy, Thriving Communities: Safe Spaces for Immigrant Children and Families highlights several actionable policies at the state and local level that can be used to promote safe spaces and economic stability for immigrant communities, including adopting sanctuary policies and options for states to strengthen safety net services for immigrant families and support immigrant youth.
Webinar & Brief
Partnering to Scale Programs 

Ascend at the Aspen Institute has shared a paper and webinar on the challenges and opportunities in blending organizational values and systems to meet shared goals for families. Both include practical approaches to scale.

Online Course
Learning the Skills to Scale

 The Active Implementation Hub is a free, online learning environment for use by any human services stakeholder involved in active implementation and scaling up programs and innovations. It includes lessons, a resource library and online workgroups.

    • For researchers: In 2016, Wilder Research conducted a literature review of parent education programs to discern key benefits from and best practices for parent education, which can be an important piece of early childhood systems.
    • For funders:  The Kresge Foundation recently announced a total of $4.5 million in 2016 grantmaking as part of its Detroit initiative. This article reviews how Kresge distributed the funds across the city's entire early childhood system.
    • For racial-equity-focused system builders: This TED talk, "The Danger of a Single Story," by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, underscores the importance of understanding people's complex personal stories and how doing so can lead to empowerment.
Early Childhood-LINC is a learning and innovation network developed by and for communities.  Our mission is to support families and improve results for young children in communities across the country with a focus on accelerating the development of effective, integrated, local early childhood systems.  We are currently made up of 10 member communities across the country.