August 2021
In this issue:

  • Announcement of 2021 Summit on Children
  • Tallahassee's Entrepreneurial Kids
  • Children's Services Council Updates
  • Summer Programming
  • National Breastfeeding Month
  • Partner Events and Announcements
This First Friday newsletter connects you with virtual resources and information to help you better serve families by connecting with one another in our shared mission to build a community where all children thrive.
Registration is Open for the 2021 Summit on Children!
We are happy to announce we are planning the 7th Annual Summit on Children! The Summit will be held at the Florida State Conference Center on Thursday, October 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On Aug. 23 at the Professional Network Community Conversation, we will be asking members to provide their insight, ideas and recommendations for Summit programming to the planning committee. Whole Child Leon values the expertise of our partner organizations and we know that the entire community benefits when we work collectively.
August Professional Network
During this month's Professional Network Community Conversation, the Pop-Up Preschool Team will share the accomplishments, challenges and lessons learned from our first-ever Summer Program. We will also be facilitating an interactive discussion to gather your expert opinions and recommendations for programming at the upcoming 2021 Summit on Children.

Join us Monday, August 23, 2021 from 12 Noon - 1:15 PM.
In case you missed it! Last month's Community Conversation featured Kevin Warren from The L.I.F.E. Group and Breanna Rittman from The Gadsden County Times.

View the recording by clicking the link below.
Tallahassee's Youth Prove Innovation Begins at Any Age
Caleb Stewart is 7-years-old and also the CEO of the nonprofit Master Caleb's Discover Library. On Tuesday, the ribbon was cut on his new pop-up library. Stewart is one of Tallahassee's growing population of young entrepreneurs.

This summer, ELC of the Big Bend hosted a Kidpreneur Program, providing lessons in five business areas. Back in May, the Soul of Southside Festival hosted a Youth Entrepreneurship EXPO, showing that innovative thinking doesn’t have an age requirement. This EXPO included a pitch contest, won by The Chocolate Dandies who are now shipping their sweet treats nationally. The sky truly is the limit for our young pioneers.
'Little big shot': 7-year-old opens 'pop-up' library in Tallahassee
Becomes youngest member of two Tallahassee chambers of commerce
By Ana Goñi-Lessan, Tallahassee Democrat

Outside a church on Tharpe Street, 7-year-old Caleb Stewart — dressed in a suit — held onto a pair of scissors almost as long as he is tall. Soon, his father cut a red ribbon and Caleb's new popup library was officially open. 
Summer Pop-Up Preschool Brings Out Community
The Pop-Up Preschool Summer Program has come to an end! We are grateful to our many community partners and volunteers for their support and to the Pop-up Team for their innovative ideas and their passion for working with children and families.

The Pop-Up Preschool model was designed to take a two-generational approach, teaching the child and caregiver simultaneously. Location is key to this program. Its ability to be mobile allows multiple Title I neighborhoods to be served. Research has shown that children in Title 1 communities are two and a half times more likely to enter kindergarten not demonstrating the necessary skills. By bringing quality early learning experiences to these neighborhoods, children will learn skills through play that will foster school readiness.

Pop-up learning stations were centered around gross-motor movement, literacy, social-emotional development and health. Children spent 15 to 20 minutes at each station before rotating. Parents, caregivers and childcare staff were encouraged to participate with their child. 

Be sure to join us Monday, August 23rd, for the August Professional Network Community Conversation, to hear from the Pop-Up Preschool Team about their experiences this summer and plans for the upcoming school year.
Open Doors Outreach Network Update
Whole Child Leon has begun hiring for the Open Doors Outreach Network positions of Survivor-Mentor and Clinician, as shared at our recent Professional Network Community Conversation. The team has also been participating in training and informational sessions regarding the many aspects of human trafficking. The Perspectives series hosted by Voices for Florida, the backbone organization for the Open Doors Outreach Network, provided a great opportunity to learn about the intricacies of the sex trafficking of children and young adults.
Children's Services Council Approves Needs Assessment Budget
The Children's Services Council (CSC) has been focused on determining the process of finding and selecting an entity to conduct the required comprehensive needs assessment . The needs assessment will allow the CSC Board to make informed decisions as they prioritize the needs of Leon County children.

On Aug. 5, they discussed terms for the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN). Respondents will need to demonstrate at least 5 years of experience in this area and provide competitive responses to win this contract budgeted at $300,000. Once applications are submitted, candidates will be reviewed by the Evaluation Team and then selected for the Negotiation Team. The CSC has made their recommendation that DEI will need to be addressed in the ITN.

Read more about the needs assessment here.
Equity in Law Enforcement Community Conversation
On Thursday, July 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Equity Tallahassee Leon hosted an important Community Conversation surrounding Equity in Law Enforcement at the Capital City Country Club. The Community Conversation explored Leon County’s current social climate while providing an opportunity for law enforcement and our broader community to come together to exchange perspectives. Conversation topics included the current state of affairs, equity as it pertains to community policing, and other important issues. More than 125 community members were in attendance. 

Click here to read the article in the Tallahassee Democrat and here for the WFSU segment. 

  1. Police Chief William Scott of the San Francisco Police Department's Keynote
  2. Article Mentioned by Chief William Scott
  3. Sheriff Walt McNeil's Keynote
  4. Panel Discussion Part 1
  5. Panel Discussion Part 2
  6. Michael Nila's Presentation Slides
  7. Michael Nila's "The Fierce Urgency of Now" Video (It may say that preview is unavailable. If so, click download to view)
  8. Presentation Slides with Speaker Information

This Community Conversation was hosted by Equity Tallahassee Leon, a Steering Committee dedicated to promoting racial equity in Leon County through social and policy changes. This Steering Committee includes members from Whole Child Leon, the Leon County Health Department, the City of Tallahassee, the Leon County Sheriff's Office, Leon County Schools, and the Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter. This event was hosted in partnership with Blue Courage, an organization designed to facilitate community conversations pertaining to law enforcement.
Superintendent Hanna Requests Temporary Autonomy from Governor DeSantis to Implement Mask Mandate
In a Press Conference on Wednesday, Aug. 4, Superintendent of Leon County Schools Rocky Hanna announced that he issued a respectful letter to Governor DeSantis requesting flexibility and autonomy to make decisions that best fit Leon County schools based on local data. Superintendent Hanna would like to implement a temporary mask requirement in grades Pre-K through 8 in order to help control the community positivity rate and protect students who are most vulnerable and unable to receive the vaccine. Hanna cited a 14-15% positivity rate and several school aged children in our local hospitals. He said the "the data reflects a change in course," and that there was a 2% positivity rate when he announced that masks would be optional on June 11th. The plan proposed would be in effect From August 11th through August 31st. The Pre-K through 8th grade mask mandate is pending as Superintendent Hanna is waiting for a response from Governor DeSantis. The Commissioner of Education was copied on the request to the office of the governor as well, and no word has been received from The Florida Department of Education.
SNAP Recipient Feedback Collection
Though the focus group has already been conducted, the survey remains open.

Please share this information with your networks and those you serve. If you have any questions regarding this program, contact Danielle Brewer at
Breastfeeding: There’s More to it Than Milk
by Dykibra Gaskin

It’s not called liquid gold for nothing. Human milk is the optimal food for human babies: significantly improving the health, survival, and well-being of infants, mothers, and their children. Breastfeeding also improves the health, social, and economic development of individuals and nations. It is one of the best investments in saving lives (WABA). 

Highlighted in the 2021 theme for World Breastfeeding Week (celebrated Aug. 1 - 7): “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility,” breastfeeding is critical to public health. With an ongoing global pandemic and other world disasters (mass migrations, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunami), consistent messaging access to skilled breastfeeding experts in the community is critical for protecting the breastfeeding dyad of parent and child. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months and a minimum of 12 months with complementary foods. According to the CDC, 74% of mothers in Florida initiated breastfeeding, but by six months, only about 52% were still breastfeeding with only 19.9% breastfeeding exclusively. In Florida, 21.6% of mothers who initiated breastfeeding were already supplementing with formula by day two of life (CDC 2020 Breastfeeding Report Card). For black mothers, and babies, the numbers have been increasing, but remain behind white mother/baby dyads (CDC). 

There are multiple ways Florida can begin increasing breastfeeding duration rates. These include raising awareness and normalizing breastfeeding, access to skilled lactation experts and community programs that work with mothers and babies, such as WIC, Healthy Start, and local breastfeeding coalitions. Initiatives that remove barriers to success, such as the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, can help increase the number of breastfeeding dyads still exclusively nursing at discharge. 

Support in the workplace is also key to increasing the duration rate or breastfeeding. The Business Case for Breastfeeding guides employers in supporting their employees who need to breastfeed or pump milk to feed their infant. Right here in Florida, the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition awards businesses with a breastfeeding policy or other added initiatives to support breastfeeding. 

As with other public health issues, policy is vital to promoting change. This is the mission behind the Breastfeeding Policy Workgroup, an initiative of Whole Child Leon. The Workgroup, consisting of doctors, non-profit leaders and breastfeeding experts focused on advancing best practices and policies in public and private sector organizations and businesses as well as local and state legislation. A survey is currently being conducted to assist us in identifying area businesses succeeding in providing breastfeeding support to their customers and employees. 

Promoting breastfeeding is beyond just the responsibility of those in the labor and delivery room. It requires a community-wide, public health approach. Leon County has taken the first steps, but continuing these efforts is vital to ensuring the best health outcomes for our families.
Dykibra Gaskin is co-chair of the Breastfeeding Policy Workgroup, an initiative of Whole Child Leon. She is the Public Health Nutrition Program Director for WIC & Nutrition (Leon, Wakulla, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor Counties) with the Florida Department of Health in Leon County. 
CDC Awards USBC a Five-year Grant to Coordinate a National Approach to Improve the Infant Feeding Landscape
The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) has been awarded funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Strengthening Breastfeeding Support by Coordinating National Efforts and Building Capacity of Breastfeeding Coalitions funding opportunity. Over the grant period, the CDC will provide up to $5M to the USBC to coordinate stakeholders in developing and implementing a five-year plan to advance policy, systems, and environmental change solutions that will:
  • address inequities in human milk feeding;
  • increase access to lactation support;
  • enhance opportunities for collaboration and capacity building amongst breastfeeding coalitions and critical stakeholders.

The timing of this announcement falls just ahead of National Breastfeeding Month, celebrated each August. The 2021 theme, Every Step of the Way, envisions a world in which every family is supported at every step along the infant feeding journey. Continuity of care in breastfeeding support is achieved by consistent, collaborative, and seamless delivery of high-quality services for families throughout the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy through the child's second birthday.

Continue reading this article here.
What Girls Need
By Marisa Porges, PhD
This new release shows how parents and educators can foster these critical twenty-first-century skills in our girls and help them to recognize and nurture their inherent strengths—to not just thrive but also find joy and purpose as they come of age in our ever-evolving world.

How to Be Kind in Kindergarten:
A Book for your Backpack
By D.J. Steinberg
This collection of short poems offers sweet and simple tips on how to be kind in the new and exciting world of kindergarten.

August 28, 2021
TLH Beer Fest

October 21, 2021
Summit on Children
Best Wishes to Brittany Payne Bruce
Brittany Payne Bruce is moving on from the Tallahassee Pediatric Behavioral Health Navigator (BHN) Program. Brittany's leadership, skills and passion for helping others were greatly valued in the BHN Program.

The Whole Child Leon Team wishes her the best of luck in her new position and with her new practice; Haven of Healing, Wellness and Restoration, LLC.
ESSEI Call for Proposals
ESSEI is a collaboration of school district, agency and organization professionals who have a desire to share best practices, strategies, and resources, which identify tools to counter and prevent academic struggles, school disengagement, and student dropout. ESSEI brings together specialist from exceptional student education, juvenile justice, dropout prevention, federal programs for at-risk student populations, attendance and truancy, social work, volunteer programs, higher education, faith and community-based organizations, and family engagement, providing professional development and networking opportunities.
We are seeking dynamic and engaging presenters to participate in breakout sessions, trainings, special group meetings and/or networking opportunities that focus on topics related to our theme, “Destination Graduation: Preparing Florida’s Students for College, Career and Life Success.”
Please submit your proposal application by September 1, 2021.
StarMetro Provides Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program
StarMetro is offering reduced fares to human service agencies! This program allows agencies to purchase reduced fare bus passes in bulk to provide to their clients. These passes are in order to ensure access to transportation for at-risk and vulnerable community members. If you have any questions, please contact Allison Fleming with StarMetro at
Tallahassee Birthing Project Sister Friends Info Sessions
The Tallahassee Birthing Project Sister Friends program with the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition will be hosting informational sessions through Zoom and in-person. To register, use the QR code or click the button below.
Thank you to those who supported Whole Child Leon by purchasing Tallahassee Beer Fest Tickets using our code. Tickets are now SOLD OUT, but the gates re-open at 3:30pm with tickets becoming available as attendees exit. Gate tickets will be $25.
Job Board
Open positions in the Community:

Children's Services Council of Leon County
Executive Director
More information here.

The Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency
Executive Director
More information here.

Baby Navigator
Family Navigator Position
More information below and here.
Breastfeeding is an unsentimental metaphor for how love works, in a way. You don't decide how much and how deely to love - you respond to the beloved, and give with joy exactly as much as they want.

- Marni Jackson
We convene several workgroups, policy committees and action teams. If you want to get involved with one, contact us.
  • Early Childhood Education & Empowerment Committee
  • Breastfeeding Policy Workgroup
  • Community Screening Team
  • Children's Week TLH Planning Committee
Building a Community Where Everyone Works
Together to Make Sure All Children Thrive
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