Education Vision: Helping adults, children and youth to achieve their potential
Early Learning Outcome – All children are nurtured by caregivers who encourage and promote early learning.
Building Bright Futures Council of Southeastern VT (www.buildingbrightfutures.org)
United Way of Windham County is represented on the Brattleboro District Building Bright Futures Council, one of twelve Regional Councils (one in each Agency of Human Services District). Building Bright Futures seeks to assure that all Vermont children are healthy and successful by improving the quality, affordability and accessibility of services for families with children under the age of six in the areas of health, early care and education. Each Regional Council coordinates regional programs and services, communicates local gaps in services to the State Council and develops and monitors regional plans for service delivery. The Building Bright Futures Council of Southeastern Vermont is taking action over the course of the next five years to promote the well-being of children in the Brattleboro AHS District. The Council’s plan includes:
- Advocacy for an equitable and effective system of services and supports for children and families
- Provision of professional development, mentoring, and leadership development to providers of early care, health and education
- Advocacy for better working conditions for caregivers and educators of children and families
- Meaningful opportunities for residents to participate in action to improve children’s quality of life.
United Way of Windham County’s Fund for Quality Early Education (www.windhamchildcare.org)
In 2007, UWWC’s Board of Directors resolved to improve childcare by funding programs that impact the entire childcare system in Windham County. Rather than fund individual childcare programs, UWWC endeavored to improve the quality and financial stability of childcare on a system-wide basis and that will provide measurable outcomes. To that end, UWWC established the Fund for Quality Early Education to support early educators’ professional development and program enrichment. Our partner in this work is Windham Child Care Association, who serves as the fiscal agent and administrator of the funds. Founded as Vermont’s first child care resource and referral agency in 1981, Windham Child Care Association’s work with nearly 300 early educators now includes providing professional development opportunities.
Through the Fund, early educators can apply for grants to assist them in professional development, such as paying for college courses, conferences and workshops, or mentoring. They can also access funds for program enrichment, including special events, materials, and activities. In 2011, we added a program improvement category, for equipment and materials. Both UWWC and Windham Child Care Association expect that more early educators will be able to increase their participation in the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS). The STARS program was instituted by Vermont’s Child Development Division in 2004 and recognizes the efforts of programs that go above and beyond regulatory standards. Since the STARS program’s initiation, Windham Child Care Association has also been assisting early educators in attaining STARS rankings. In February 2008, fewer than 10% of the early education providers in the Windham County were participating in the STARS program. In 2011, that number had risen to over 50%.
Windham Child Care Association - Early Educator Mentoring Program (www.windhamchildcare.org)
This program is designed to support new child care providers as they learn the various aspects of child care business. Trained family child care providers serve as mentors to family home child care providers offering information, encouragement and resources. The program is intended for new child care providers who are working to become registered, have recently become registered, or providers who have had a recent licensing violation. This program leverages existing expertise in the early childhood education field to support new providers, a population identified as more vulnerable and at-risk. Significant program funding is dispersed to the child care community through mentor and substitute stipends. For mentors, these additional stipends are a strong incentive for experienced providers to remain in the field; for substitutes, this entry level experience is beneficial. WCCA’s role is limited, but critical: The Early Educator Outreach Coordinator will dedicate 25% of their time to recruiting and training mentors, “matching” mentors with mentees, and providing ongoing resources and support to mentors in their new roles. Participants receive:
- One-on-one support from someone that understands the unique challenges of child care
- Support with contracts, policies, and business aspects of child care;
- Suggestions of room and material arrangement
- Curriculum and assessment tools and support
- Links to other resources including WCCA’s staff
- Vouchers for WCCA workshops.
Windham Child Care Association - Professional Development Calendar (www.windhamchildcare.org)
This program offers training opportunities to child care providers in Windham County. WCCA will offer over 75 trainings this year on a variety of topics from child development to business practices, nutrition and menu-planning to exploring nature with children. WCCA collaborates with existing organizations within the community to present on topics important to children’s health, safety, and development and also brings in regional experts to provide more in-depth and specialized workshops. The trainings are held in the evenings, on weekends, and occasionally in the afternoon and are available to providers at an affordable rate. The topics of these workshops are influenced by the interest of local child care providers; their annual feedback helps shape the program’s offerings. While the baseline purpose of this program is to meet state child care licensing requirements, the program also addresses a broader goal: developing a highly-trained early education workforce. By providing early educators with challenging, stimulating, and fun workshops reflective of their interests, WCCA helps the local early education workforce develop their knowledge and skills, ensuring high-quality child care is available to the community’s families and children.
School Success Outcome – All children succeed in school
Meeting Waters YMCA - Youth Development (www.meetingwatersymca.org)
Meeting Waters YMCA’s Youth Development programs: ASPIRE, Kindergarten ASPIRE, Snow Days Program, and Lewis Day Camp, combine to not only contribute to the increased possibilities that "all children succeed in school" but also support more than 500 working parents and improved healthy lifestyles of more than 250 families by providing year-round "out-of-school" enrichment.
Windham Child Care Association – Bookmobile (www.windhamchildcare.org)
Windham Child Care Association is requesting support for the Bookmobile program transition. This summer, Windham County Reads, a local literacy organization, approached Windham Child Care Association as the potential future home of their most visible program, the Bookmobile. WCCA’s board recently voted to bring the Bookmobile under its organizational umbrella. The Bookmobile currently serves children and child care providers throughout Windham County and focuses on providing literacy experiences for young children and related education and modeling for adults who care for them. In 2011, the Bookmobile provided library and literacy outreach to almost 1,000 Windham County children, approximately 600 of whom are under age 5. Ensuring that children are ready to read and learn when they enter school has been the focus of Bookmobile activities for infant, toddler and preschool children. Story times on the Bookmobile include early concepts about print, songs, puppets and conversation about the ideas and characters encountered in books. Building on this solid foundation, WCCA has identified opportunities to enhance the impact of the Bookmobile program, primarily by focusing on existing relationships with child care providers. For rurally isolated home-based providers, a visit from the Bookmobile can bring not just children’s books, but also resources, materials, activities, and – perhaps most importantly – adult connection and support.
School Success Outcome - All people complete a high school-level education that prepares them for success in life
Youth Services Inc. - Big Brothers Big Sisters, Unlimited Opportunities (www.youthservicesinc.org)
The goal of Unlimited Opportunities is to help BUHS students with disabilities graduate from High School, by providing them with the support of a peer mentor. Students with disabilities are at a higher risk of dropout than students without disabilities. One of the major factors in dropping out is a lack of peer connection. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County, in collaboration with BUHS Special Ed. and Guidance Departments, and WSESU Staff, will match responsible high school students with peers who have a disability. These pairs will engage in common teenage activities in the community such as, going to movies, basketball games, Gallery Walks, and other activities of mutual interest. The cost of these outings will be reimbursed to the students, and a stipend provided to the mentors upon completion of the program. In selecting mentees, BBBS and BUHS staff will carefully select the student that will benefit the most from each mentor recruited, matching personality traits and common interests. High School Mentors will be trained by BUHS Special Ed. Staff, where specialized training will be provided according to the special needs of each mentee. This program will join the strength of the BBBS program model – with 37 years of proven success in Windham County, with the strength of the BUHS Special Education staff and Supervisory Union.