State Advisory Council Priority Topic Areas: 2017-2018


The Building Bright Futures (BBF) State Advisory Council (SAC) used their September 25th meeting to discuss and choose priority topic areas for council discussion and action in 2017-2018.

Last year, the Council focused on social and emotional wellbeing as well as the substance abuse and opiate epidemic. A white-paper on framing response to the opiate epidemic from an early childhood perspective is under development as a result of this work.

Sarah Squirrell, Executive Director of BBF, began the discussion by reminding the Council that the goal of identifying priority topic areas is to move toward consensus-based, cross-sector policy recommendations that are regionally informed. The recommendations developed by the SAC this year will be included in next year’s How Are Vermont’s Young Children & Families publication presented to the Legislature, Administration, and governor.

In considering possible topic areas, Sarah asked that the Council reflect upon the ECAP priorities for 2017-2018, as well as an informal list of early childhood issues that are rising on the regional level. In future years, we hope to structure a more formal process for identifying regional priorities ahead of SAC priorities so that one can inform the other. Council members were also asked to consider the following criteria when recommending priority topic areas:

  • Is it actionable?
  • Is it cross cutting?
  • Is there urgency behind it?

Council members then generated a list of possible topic areas for discussion and action in the coming year, with the goal of identifying two. Some suggestions of priority topics included trauma-informed care, integrating services, teacher and provider recruitment, building capacity for early care and learning programs, improving early literacy, multi-generational approaches to service delivery, higher education’s involvement in the early childhood system, authentic family engagement, children’s mental health system of care, and more.

After generating this list, council members were asked to reflect and vote on the areas which they believed were the most important to focus on this year.

Overwhelmingly, the top priority areas ended up being:

  • Framing the connection between trauma/adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and protective factors/social emotional wellness, and identifying statewide strategies
  • Building capacity for early care and learning programs, including recruitment and retention of teachers and providers

These priority topic areas align well with emerging regional priorities and BBF looks forward to leveraging the experience and insight of its statewide network to inform future discussion at the SAC.

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