Orleans & Northern Essex Regional Council Recap – July 2017
Awareness of the importance of children’s social and emotional wellbeing is the primary goal of the Orleans Northern Essex Regional Council Action plan in 2017. Members of the council work collaboratively on many projects in the community to advance this goal. A few examples of this work in the spring and summer of 2017 include:
Parade for the Young Child and Resiliency Screening: Every May the Regional Council and its partners, with the leadership of the North Country Supervisory Union’s Early Childhood Programs, organizes a parade to celebrate young children in our community. This year over 400 children, parents, and staff from local early childhood programs participated. The photograph on the front page of the local newspaper the next day showed a sea of 400 young children, parents, and staff from early care and education settings marching behind a brightly colored banner that said, “Celebrate Young Children.” The parade ended in Gardner Park, where music and ice cream were served for free. This year, Building Bright Futures was also able to provide a free book to every child who participated. In addition to the parade, council members worked with the local Building Flourishing Communities Work Group to host a screening of the film Resilience at the North Country Career Center in the evening after the parade. The screening was well attended by service providers, early childhood educators, and community members. Eric Erwin facilitated a great discussion about the film and it’s implications for our region.
Early Multitiered Systems of Support Regional Leadership Team: Beginning in December of 2016, our region has built a strong leadership team committed to expanding implementation of the Early MTSS model in home and center based programs in the region. This spring the team grew to include staff from two Early MTSS sites in our region as well as a parent representative. The leadership team meets monthly and hopes to bring training in the pyramid model to the region in the coming months to build the capacity to advance high fidelity implementation across all care settings.
Early Care and Education Capacity: Orleans and Northern Essex Counties continue to experience a dire shortage of care. The region has lost over 100 slots in licensed centers since January of 2016. The Regional Council in partnership with Newport’s Community Commons hosted a community conversation in June to vision what quality affordable care that meets the needs of families in our region would look like. Parents, early educators, city council people and community members brainstormed both the challenges and a vision for the future. The hope is that this discussion is a springboard for future regional planning.
Promise Community Initiatives: Newport Center and Troy/North Troy each have a promise community initiative. Many members of the Regional Council serve on the steering committees of these initiatives. The Troy/North Troy Promise Community is working on a project that addresses food security, recreation opportunities and social and community supports for families with young children. The Newport Center Promise Community is working to address lack of access to quality childcare in the city and surrounding towns. The team is looking to pilot a concept of “Community Care” that brings together parents, providers, members of the faith community as well as seniors to create a holistic model for early care.