For the October State Advisory Council (SAC) meeting, BBF brought together SAC and Regional Council leadership.  This was an opportunity for leaders to better understand each other’s work and the relationship between their work in order to ensure that sensible state policy is informed by the wisdom of communities, and that Regional Councils are supported as critical tables for communities to problem solve, coordinate, and take action. Through this discussion, State Advisory Council and Regional Council leaders then identified and aligned around key common priority areas to maximize the impact of our collective work of supporting the well-being of children and families in Vermont at both the state and regional level.

Chloe Leary, Executive Director of the Winston Prouty Center for Child Development, who sits on both her regional council and the SAC, provided opening remarks that are best summarized by this powerful quote she shared: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

After, we held small group discussions of regional efforts and initiatives to address common early childhood issues and priorities, including

  • Early Care and Learning Capacity and Access
  • Workforce Development, Recruitment, and Retention
  • Supporting the Social and Emotional Well-Being of Children and Families
  • Supporting Family and Child Welfare
  • Supporting the Health and Development of Children

Those conversations gave way to brainstorming sessions about what systems, policy and practice actions are most needed at the state level to improve our system and support the work of the regions.

Coming back together as a large group, we got to hear reports on what each of the small groups had discussed.  Building further upon that work, the full group reflected on key opportunities for statewide action.  These SAC priority areas had to be actionable, feasible, urgent and cross-functional.  Below are the ideas that were put forward- the ones that are bolded were the top four ideas that most resonated with the group.

Early Care and Learning Capacity and Access

  • Gap analysis of licensing regulations and ability to meet them
  • Develop recommendations about changes to Act 166 to inform legislators (proactive vs. reactive) starting from common ground across settings
  • Infusion of funding and restructuring of CCFAP
  • BBF leadership on successful implementation of Act 166

Social and Emotional

  • Early MTSS training and coaching and implementation statewide with dedicated staff for programs (mental health consultation)
  • Challenging behaviors
  • Workforce training
  • Perinatal supports
  • Supports for foster families

Health and Development

  • Systems analysis of CIS; access, resources and capacity
  • Expanding Early Childhood mental health (supports, services, consultation)

Workforce

  • Analysis of transition to Northern Lights Professional Development System
  • Ensuring access to affordable Professional Development coursework. Relevant coursework that will help people advance in their work (access public and private settings)
  • Loan Forgiveness
  • Expanding cross-sector approach to Professional Development
  • Qualified workforce
  • Scholarships
  • Using CTE, career pathways, pipeline

Family and Child Welfare

  • Identify best practices in transportation
  • How to work with other sectors to leverage supports for families (housing, transportation, food security)
  • Support paid family leave efforts

Other

  • Closing communication loop between state and regional activities (SAC members to attend regional council meetings)
  • When to bring councils together to discuss statewide issues e.g. Act 166, STARS
  • Utilizing data informed decision making in our actions and recommendations (RBA)

This work will underpin the SAC’s priority setting for 2019, which will happen at the November 26, 2018 meeting

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