Bennington Regional Council Recap – September 2018
In September, the Bennington Regional Council acted as a focus group for the Southern Vermont Economic Development District as they gathered input about early childhood and the link to economic development. Brattleboro and Bennington are working together to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The focus group was facilitated by a representative from each county, Laura Sibilia and Jonathan Cooper. They will continue to gather information as they develop the strategy with an articulated 10-year vision for Southern Vermont.
The Bennington Council identified successes, challenges, and perceptions about the field of early childhood. Although the focus was early care and education, there was a lot of discussion about the need for social connections, the value of the early childhood field, and the difficulty of finding, employing, and retaining qualified staff. These are important issues to be identified and dealt with in the CEDS. Quality early care and education is a lynch pin of strong economic development. Using the Bennington Council as a focus group was an opportunity for us to let economic planners know about early childhood services and how they fit within the community of services for children and their families.
The August meeting took the time to look at some of the themes brought up during the annual review of the Bennington action plan. It was an opportunity to further explore the ideas and concerns. There is a need to clarify priorities and strategies and incorporate them into the Bennington Early Childhood Regional Plan. The issues were Basic Needs: housing, transportation, food insecurity, medical care; Building Resilience (ACES-trauma), and Strength-Based Services. This was group work with teams moving through the questions, recording input on chart paper, and reporting out. The next step is for small committees to work on incorporating these points into the regional plan. There was a discussion about strength-based services as the basic tenet of the way we do and should work with children and their families.