Strengthening Families, Building Community

 by Soren Gall, Infant, Toddler & Family Specialist

Soren Gall

At Denver’s Early Childhood Council, we work directly with individuals who care for children (in licensed centers, licensed home care, and unlicensed home settings). Yet, our relationship with the families of these children is virtually non-existent. Our impact with families that have young children lies primarily in our conversations with the child care providers. Often these conversations revolve around the Colorado Shines rating process and how child care providers can properly document how they partner with families in the community.

Within the last year, the Council has been taking a more proactive approach in reaching families. Last May, we hosted informational events, introducing the Colorado Early Learning & Development Guidelines and Colorado Shines paired with interactive play sessions at local libraries.At the Farm Stand Additionally, we exhibited at the Denver Botanic Gardens weekly farm stand at Denver Human Services over the summer and participated in the Children’s Museum of Denver Vroom event. These and other activities have allowed us to connect with parents and gauge how we can best support them while keeping a pulse on the work child care providers and other community partners are doing.

In addition to these events and our continued discussion around family engagement, we continue to take part in gatherings that focus on the importance of engaging families. Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities conference in Winter Park. For those of you not familiar with Strengthening Families™, it is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building the five protective factors framework.

During the two day experience, there were four keynote speakers. They discussed the two-generation approach, the effect of poverty on children and families, how stress affects the brain, and the importance of reviving yourself in the work that you do in your career.

Two takeaways I got from the conference:

Now, more than ever, we must keep our conversation going related to suspension and expulsion, and we will need family input to make progress on this issue. With the implementation of the recently awarded Launch Together for Southwest Denver grant, families, professionals and communities will share learnings with each other and with state partners, resulting in a more aligned and sustainable system and better social-emotional outcomes for children and families. Stay tuned for more updates from us on our Launch work in the coming months!

We also need to tap into our rich digital network and engage families in a more meaningful way over social media outlets. Here are some interesting statistics:

  • 62 percent of all adults use Facebook.
  • 20 percent of all adults use Twitter.
  • 24 percent of all adults use Instagram.
  • 26 percent of all adults use Pinterest.
  • Snapchat? Growing leaps and bounds, especially among teens.
  • Video has changed the internet and will represent 79 percent of all global internet traffic by 2018. Internet users will choose to watch a video over reading content.

Hmmm… not sure yet about Snapchat, but I would encourage you to engage with us on the Council’s social media pages!  Meanwhile, I will continue to look for ways to connect with families, where YOU are, and learn from YOU on what is needed most in our community.

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