A More Inclusive and Accessible Organization

 By Flor Marquez, Community Engagement Coordinator

As non-profit and community service organizations, we aspire to offer comprehensive and effective services, yet many times we hit a wall when trying to implement services that fit the needs of the entire community. There is never a shortage of ways for us to create high quality services that are more inclusive and accommodating. Creating high quality and inclusive services requires a deep look at the culture of an organization as well as a commitment to shift and adapt according to the needs of the community. While it may be challenging at times, it is also extremely rewarding to know that your organization is committed to being accessible and inclusive.

While our mission is to impact the lives of ALL children and families, many times, like other nonprofit organizations, we are limited in our ability to reach ALL children and families because of funding, experience or diversity barriers. It is important that we recognize that while the city of Denver may be thriving – many of our children are not.

Our organization is committed to creating and coordinating comprehensive services that will impact the lives of all children in Denver. Partners and staff members have brought to our attention the growing gap of services that exist in the early childhood system, and how they are either not inclusive of many community members, or even worse – not accessible. Access has come to the forefront of our conversations with partners, funders, staff and stakeholders.

After receiving feedback that many people in our diverse early childhood community have been marginalized by the early childhood system, we, as an organization have had to take a hard look at how our processes, policies and procedures impact our stakeholders. Leadership and all staff have agreed that this is a necessary next step in our evolution as an organization. We have also experienced a large growth spurt over the course of two years, going from eleven to twenty-five employees! We are fortunate to be joined by new employees who have a wealth of experience and knowledge in many different areas who help inform our growth and development.

Juana Bordas speaking at DELHIOver the last year our staff has committed to a learning series on intercultural development, which has led us to further understand how we must work internally as individuals in order to impact an organizational culture shift. This has been a gratifying process as we learn about each other and ourselves. Along with new learnings, we are leveraging resources to make a more inclusive and accessible strategic plan. The plan includes a communications strategy with a full website translation into Spanish, as well as many new translated materials, and working towards more diverse service offerings to increase the workforce capacity.

Last year our career pathways team provided over 900 hours of professional development, one third of which were in Spanish, covering many themes important to the early childhood community. We have also committed to representing on various boards and committees in order to ensure that the system is also informed about the needs our community has voiced. We are fortunate to move forward with a strategic plan that encompasses many of these goals and to have the full support of our board and stakeholders as well.

Although we celebrate the progress we’ve made as an organization, we also recognize that the work and learning must be ongoing, flexible and responsive to the ever-changing Denver community. Please feel free to share your feedback and thoughts with us about how we can continue growing to support ALL of Denver’s youngest children and their families!

Be sure to include this year’s DELHI (Denver’s Early Learning and Health Institute) on your calendar. This year, DELHI will be focused on Breaking Down the Barriers to Equity. We’ll bring in experts to help us understand what the barriers are to equity and how we can collectively work toward creating a more equitable society for our young children and their families. This event will take place on Friday, September 29th, 2017. We look forward to learning with all of you, how we can create safe and inclusive community.

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