Once again this year the Bennington Parent Child Center, Sunrise Family Resource Center, has given the BBF Early Childhood Council the opportunity to weigh in the direct services grants funded from the PCC Master Grant. The Council hears from grantees and then has the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. It is a great way to support the organizations in expanding services or developing innovative approaches. All of the grant proposals must have a direct link to the Bennington Regional Plan. This year grants were awarded to:
- Bennington County Childcare Association –Family Fair
- Bennington Rec Center and YMCA – parent child exercise
- Catamount Connections- Nurturing Moms Post-partum Support
- North Bennington McCullough Library- Books and Babies
- Quality Task Force- professional development opportunities
- Readsboro Pre-school- Parent Child Music
The Sunrise Leadership Team makes the final determination on which proposals and how much to award. The June Council meeting will hear a report out from each of the grantees.
During this period, the Council spent time talking about the importance of quality parent engagement. The Council had a small group of parents who shared the ways they got involved in their communities. Although some ways were more typical, there was a parent whose child was born in another state who offered a different perspective. The local hospital held a new moms group as a way to engage parents. All of the parents could appreciate the issue around sleep deprivation and the difficulty in accomplishing normal tasks. The group became a basis of friendship.
The Council learned a lot and began to appreciate how parents would like to be involved in an authentic manner. We learned that libraries are a great first stop, but activities need to have varying times to accommodate things like nap time and parents’ work schedules. It’s also important to invite fathers to be involved.
The next step for Bennington is to identify 2 parents to assist with the parent survey on engagement. The survey part of the Pre-school Development Grant assessment will give us both regional and statewide information. We are hoping that these parents will continue to be part of the Bennington Council.