Kids Connection – Nurturing Young Children Is Key

Kids Connection Article
April 2011

Nurturing Young Children Is Key

In the mid 1800’s, social reformer Fredrick Douglass said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  Those words of wisdom are as true today as they were almost 200 years ago.  Today, local, state and federal governments and social service organizations must grapple with budgetary realities in a slow economy.  How will we prioritize our needs and spend our limited resources?

Last year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce completed a study that showed that the nurturing and education of young children yields high results, including less remediation in education, fewer school dropouts, less need for welfare, greater productivity later in life, and improved social  behavior as adults.  Additional research shows that, for every $1 invested in quality early learning programs, over $11 in benefits are returned by reduction in crime and increases in earnings for participants.

But the focus on dollars alone does not tell the whole story.   Results of recent brain research are very clear.  Positive environment and experiences in the first five years of life are the most influential in the development of a child’s brain. Skills children learn early in life create patterns for continued learning and success in school and throughout their lives.

The Chaffee County Early Childhood Council (CCECC) is a group of over 30 local parents, professionals and organizations working together to pool resources and fill gaps to improve the quality of life for children, prenatal though age 8, and their families.

Established in 2007, CCECC can be credited with many important accomplishments.   In response to parent requests, it created the Raising Children Made Easier brochure that provides realistic information, tips and strategies for parents of young children and includes local resources (available at local libraries and online). CCECC has partnered with family physicians and local agencies to bring Ages and Stages developmental screenings to the county. Ages and Stages helps parents and care givers understand where a child is thriving and where he or she might benefit from extra support.

The Council sponsored free countywide dental and developmental screenings for children, birth to 5.  It also partnered with Salida and Buena Vista Recreation Departments to establish winter programs for families with infants and toddlers.

CCECC continues to bring high quality workshops and training opportunities to our county for parents and service providers.  It partners with pre-schools, pregnancy centers, churches, childcare centers, service agencies and childcare providers to offer educational materials, programs and support for the parents they serve.  Lastly, it provides useful information through its website, newspaper ads and feature articles.

Like Frederick Douglass and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chaffee County Early Childhood Council recognizes the ongoing need to nurture and support our young children. CCECC’s tagline says it all: “Their Beginning. Our Future.”  With everyone’s support, that motto could become a guiding principle  for all future community planning in Chaffee County.

The CCECC is funded through private foundation grants and federal child care block grant dollars.  For more information about Chaffee County Early Childhood Council and access to parent/provider information and resources, visit its website at www.ccecc.org.

Joan Michaud is a consultant to non-profits in public relations and fundraising.  She works extensively with CCECC to help it realize its vision: the children and families of our community are nurtured and thriving.