August 2017 | ISSUE 35
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. 

We encourage you to share LINC-UP with others. Please send feedback or suggestions for "Community News" to:
Research to Action
Identifying Best Practices for Parent-Child Playgroups

In Neighborhoods for Learning throughout Ventura County, California, parents attend Parents and Children Together (PACT) classes with their infants and toddlers (ages birth to three years old). Last year, 4,000 parents participated across the county.
"The classes are intended to support early learning between parents and children. They promote bonding and attachment, and they model positive interactions for parents that lead to the child's optimal growth and development," explained Petra Puls, Executive Director of First 5 Ventura County (F5VC).
Playing, learning, connecting

F5VC developed the PACT playgroup model to expand their support into the earliest years for both children and parents. They consulted with child development experts and used the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework to determine the information and supports parents need in the early years.

"PACT classes embed information about developmental milestones and appropriate expectations," Puls said. "They also have a strong focus on early literacy - it's all about parents and caregivers talking, reading and singing with their children. Because so many families with young children are isolated, another goal of PACT classes is to connect parents with one another and with resources in their community."

Because of these supports, Puls sees the playgroups as a critical part of the continuum of early childhood services in the community.
Collaboration to identify best practices

While F5VC staff had anecdotal evidence of the playgroups' success, they wanted to back it up with more formal evaluation. Puls also knew that others in California and around the country were interested in more structure for their own playgroup offerings.

When an opportunity arose to work with other EC-LINC communities on a Research to Action project (see below), F5VC organized a project focused on identifying best practices for playgroups for parents and children from birth to 3 years old.

Through the Research to Action project, representatives of five communities came together to compare their playgroup programming, identify common elements and best practices and develop a plan for evaluating the effectiveness of playgroups. F5VC engaged consultants from Collective Impact, LLC, to conduct a literature review, survey others using strong playgroup models around the country and facilitate the work among the five EC-LINC communities.

Together, the group developed a best practices and evaluation framework for the participating communities to implement. A summary of the project is now available, as are summaries of three other EC-LINC Research to Action projects (see below).
For F5VC, the project was an important step toward generating the evaluation data they ultimately want to collect for their playgroups. "Locally, we continue to use what we've learned, develop our outcome measurement tools, refine our evaluation practices and work on engaging other partners with the goal to expand and sustain our playgroup model," said Puls.
Joint Learning: Research to Action Project Summaries

With support from an anonymous donor, small groups of EC-LINC member communities worked together in 2016 on four
"Research to Action" projects designed to advance the field of early childhood systems through actionable research.

Together EC-LINC member communities undertook research to achieve three aims: provide new insight into a question related to early childhood systems building; implement or test their findings locally; and share lessons learned from the research experience.

Project summaries and the materials developed by each are now available for the following projects:
Preventing and Raising Community Awareness of Toxic Stress

The Child Abuse and Neglect Technical Assistance and Strategic Dissemination Center (CANTASD) recently shared materials from a webinar on Community Approaches To Toxic Stress , where Cailin O'Connor shared CSSP's issue brief on the same topic and explored how communities across the country are finding ways to prevent and respond to toxic stress in the lives of children, youth and families.

Another recent CANTASD webinar, Resilience: Building Community Awareness And Engagement Through Film Screenings, looks at how Prevent Child Abuse America chapters and other community organizations across the country have used the film Resilience to engage communities in child abuse and neglect prevention.


Data for Change
Closing the Leadership Gap

The L.E.A.D. Early Childhood Clearinghouse provides accurate and accessible data about policy levers to improve all facets of the early childhood leadership workforce. The data is intended for decision makers, policymakers, advocates, scholars, leaders, teachers, students and other impacted individuals
Racial Equity System Building
Leading for Equity

This resource outlines the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes' recommended policies for ensuring a competent early learning workforce that supports all children. It explores structural factors that support inequality in the early learning workforce and the importance of good quality data in addressing workforce development and equity.

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.