Election Day has come and gone. Bennington hosted its annual Legislative/Candidates Luncheon in October. It is always a positive event and the opportunity for the early childhood community to educate our legislators about the importance of quality early childhood services, including health, mental health, home visiting and other community and support services, as well as early care and learning. The discussion ranged from increased need for services under the umbrella of Children’s Integrated Services, the complex families that are showing up in need of services and the rise in the number of children in DCF Family Services custody. It is a good opportunity to demonstrate to the legislators what we are doing locally to support children and their families by working together.
The Maternal Child Health Coalition is the steering committee for Help Me Grow activities in Bennington. The MCH coalition will be working with the Department of Health surveillance report over the next year to identify trends and strategies to turn the curve.
These last several months, there have been numerous professional development opportunities. The largest was the annual Bennington County Childcare Association (BCCCA) and partners conference with 160 early childhood professionals attending. It offers 2 workshops as well as a keynote. The Starting Points network provided other learning opportunities. The Quality Task Force in collaboration with Head Start has offered a 2-part Pyramid Model training. CPR and First Aid continues to be offered on a rotating basis. There has been a push to have more people trained to use the screening registry. There were separate trainings for childcare providers and for the CIS team.
The Bennington Council addressed the STARS evolution with Melissa Riegel-Garret and Heather Mattison from the Child Development Division. Phase 1 is direct and simplifies the process of getting STARS. Questions and concerns about the second phase were recorded to assist in the construction of that phase. There was a conversation about how to reach providers who were not able to attend a daytime meeting.
In the next several months the Bennington Council will address the regional plan, assessing how it links with the work of our regional partners. It is forecasted that there will be several short term committees to look at the strategies and actions under each of the outcomes: Children are Healthy, Children are Learning, and Children and Families are Supported.