What a joy to report major strides made by the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance (BT3), thanks to the strong, sustaining support of our funding partners. This is happening because of you.
Every child deserves the best possible start in life. BT3 is working to fulfill the promise of today's children to become healthy, happy, and contributing members of their communities.
Moved by the mountain evidence showing the profound impact good care, nutrition, and education during a child's first 1,000 days has on his or her entire life, a large group of resource providers and other stakeholders from three counties and the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation have come together toward this common goal.
- Created a regional alliance with a mailing list of 235 and a Steering Committee comprised of representatives of programs and services throughout the region. An executive advisory committee supports the executive director between steering committee meetings.
- Hired an executive director in 10/15, who is employed by Adirondack Foundation.
- Organized our work around five key strategies or building blocks and created volunteer workgroups to advance the strategies.
- Conducted the first Alliance annual meeting and day-long professional development conference for providers May 13-14, attended by 141 agency representatives and independent providers. Rave reviews from presenters and participants alike. At least 51 new members recruited.
- Developed and launched the Alliance website and Facebook page.
- Logo design donated by celebrated children's author Steven Kellogg.
- Launched the "5 Minute Advocate" e-mail blast to keep Alliance members and others aware of statewide advocacy efforts and encourage participation.
- Developing a Facebook Group with the help of a young mother whose parent/child pilot summer program at Pendragon Theater won a Generous Acts Fund grant this spring and who became involved with the Alliance as a result of the May conference.
- Contracted with grantwriter Anne Ruzow Holland (40 years' experience in grantwriting and nonprofit administration), who will identify potential private and governmental funding sources for Alliance operations and projects that advance Alliance priorities through broad, collaborative action, craft a template for applications using regional data that any Alliance member organization can use, and write grants. Work begins mid July.
- Contracted with communications expert Ken Aaron (formerly with Paul Smith's College) to design a PR campaign that will raise public awareness of BT3 and the needs it is addressing. Work with the Alliance PR/Advocacy Group begins in early August.
- To expand our capacity, we joined the North Country Thrive network.
- Measures: North Country Thrive has enrolled public schools across Clinton and Essex counties in a uniform kindergarten readiness assessment and will publicize its progress in mid August.
- Directory of Services: Thrive is preparing an enhanced directory of programs and services for broad public use that will include all Alliance members. The data in the directory may be used by 2-1-1, as well.
The Building Blocks
Making these five building block services available to all children and families in need will bring us a long way toward ensuring that every child in the region has the supportive environment needed for a successful, happy, contributory life.
Universal Nurse Home Visiting for Pregnant Women and Families with Newborn Children:
- Franklin County now has two nurses specifically assigned to home visits to new babies—for the first time ever—as a result of a proposal developed by BT3 co-chair Erin Streiff.
- The Alliance has been chosen to participate in a pilot test of a New Parent Kit developed by the NYS Parenting Education Partnership, thanks to BT3 steering committee member Bob Frawley. The Kit includes the New Parent Guide – a kind of owners' manual, What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick, and a picture book to read with the baby. A group of Alliance members will find ways to make the Kit more like a "Baby Box," with clothing and other resources for parents (Barbara Glaser donated a Finnish Baby Box to inspire us, and it did). We're collaborating with a local community service organization (Beta Mu), which has been giving some books to new babies, to expand their reach by using us for distribution. The Kits will be distributed by county nurse home visiting programs and others who work with pregnant women and families with newborns.
- The Alliance will also investigate ways to access funding opportunities made available through health care reform and Medicaid redesign to support the expansion of these services.
Comprehensive Home Visiting Services for Vulnerable Families:
- Healthy Families/Behavioral Services North is working across county and agency lines to apply for a $700,000 grant to increase home visits coverage for vulnerable families—60 in Franklin and 40 in Essex, piloting a combined enrollment technique that will be a model for other regions—DOHs of Essex, Franklin and St Regis tribe working together. This cross-boundary effort is a major positive shift. Bob Frawley supported co-steering committee member Esther Piper of Healthy Families as she crafted the application. Alliance member organizations wrote letters of support to include with the application.
Family Resource Centers and Evidenced-based Parenting Education:
- An Alliance working group is investigating the availability of existing facilities in Essex County that could be used as family resource centers, the idea being that, while making family resources centers available everyday, everywhere is the goal, we will focus on creating centers that will be available in many places some days of the week.
- Another group is exploring funding opportunities and program models in use in other communities across the state to determine strategies that may be replicated here.
High-Quality Early Childhood Education:
- Alliance outreach, particularly by co-chair Jamie Basiliere, has increased enrollment of early childhood education programs participating in QUALITYstarsNY by 16. (Programs participating in QUALITYstarsNY receive guided quality improvement planning, technical assistance, fiscal support for professional development, curricula materials, and supplies and equipment.)
- The Alliance spreads the word about the Small Grants for Small Children program, also funded by the Cloudsplitter Foundation, that helps day care providers buy equipment, pay for professional development, and other program needs.
- BT3 supported the Child Care Council of the North Country and the ACAP (Adirondack Community Action Programs) Child Care Resource and Referral Program's successful application for Adirondack Foundation's Generous Act Fund to recruit and provide preliminary training to new early childhood education providers in areas of the region that lack providers.
- BT3 is bringing together ACAP and Education Connection, a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization, to bring School Fuel to Essex County. As their website describes it, "School Fuel is dedicated to equipping adults and children with tools to embrace the digital age in a mindful, successful way." The Essex County program will train early childhood educators to lead workshops with parents. It is widely accepted that children aged two and younger should not engage in screen time, so parents of very young children will use apps on their mobile devices to get parenting questions answered. Parents of older children will learn which programs are developmentally appropriate, and will learn how to engage with their children during screen time. We hope to have a program in place in Essex County by Spring 2017.
High-Quality, Comprehensive Health Care:
- An Alliance work group has determined that establishing a local Help Me Grow initiative in our region would result in significant improvements. Help Me Grow helps primary health care practices implement evidenced-based screening approaches and makes it easier for pediatricians and other health care practitioners to connect their patients to necessary supports and services. The Western New York Help Me Grow initiative, which is being supported by the Western and Central New York Health Foundation to replicate the program model statewide, has submitted a proposal for funding to support a one-year planning grant. Their proposal includes supporting replication planning in both Nassau County and the North Country.
Examples of BT3's Indirect Impact:
- Essex County has started using school buses to get kids to pre and after school programs—Alan Jones and BT3 steering committee member Mikki Hopper of ACAP got this going.
- ACAP is starting a new child (ages 3-5) care center in Lewis, repurposing an old school—with grants from Cloudsplitter, Chas Wood and United Way—noting that BT3 got them to focus on what they really need in their area to support working families, to work creatively and with partners toward solution.
- With the expansion of universal pre-kindergarten in recent years, the need for Head Start slots in the region has declined. Alliance memberJackie Skiff of JCEO (Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties) solved the problems by applying to the Department of Health and Human Services to change some Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots. As a result, Head Start continues to serve 269 children, and Early Head Start is providing 48 previously unserved children with home visits.
Adirondack Foundation's Small Grants for Small Children:
- Adirondack Foundation offers grants ranging $100 to $500 for daycare centers and independent day care providers to enhance their work with our youngest residents and to support professional training, with preference to those participating in QUALITYstarsNY. The program has made 90 grants totaling $39,000 in two years. The results are visible: Small Grants to Small Children have improved retention of day care providers—they stay with it—helping keep day care centers open.