As we continue to “spring forward” into April, the Franklin/Grand Isle Regional Council continues to identify and work towards council initiatives, set to be finalized at the March BBF council meeting. To do so, the Council continues to develop community partnerships. Two of those relationships include on-going discussions with both Tim Smith, Executive Director of the Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation and Sherri Potvin, Lake Champlain Islands Economic Development Corporation. Both have expressed interest in not only becoming more involved in our Council, but also within the on-going conversations around child care and economic/business development in the region. This partnership comes at a beautiful time, as the council works to brainstorm how we can support local business owners to invest in early child care/early childhood systems.
The region continues to highlight and commend the work of programs in the region, including the Vermont Adult Learning Program at Community Action (VAL) in St. Albans. The VAL Program works to provide education, resources, and wellness development within our community, specifically to our adult community members. Recently, the program has invited various partners, including the BBF Regional Council members, to discuss early childhood programing in the region and how providers can make these more accessible to parents. The practice/program has continued to support education, life-skills, parenting engagement, and employment opportunities for the community. With early childhood systems in mind, this collaborative effort to educate on early childhood is a promising movement towards bringing more parental presence to on-going Regional Council meetings.
The Franklin/Grand Isle Region’s Starting Point Leaders, (Lynn Roberts, Tina Lothian, Michelle Sheldon and Tami Dodge) took a timeout in March to meet with Amanda Brooks, a writer for various public/local newspapers in in Franklin/Chittenden, who wrote an article on ‘Unsung Heroes’. The article highlighted not only the incredible work these child care providers do in their home/center-based programs, but the hours dedicated to professionalizing the child care workforce. From implementing new strategies to meet state regulations to spending several hours of overtime dedicated to tasks related to the profession, these providers gave a beautiful and honest depiction of the realities working in the child care field. You can find the article here.
Throughout the month of February, the Council adopted a Toiletry Drive to help alleviate an on-going need in the community. Toiletries are not covered by 3 Squares, food stamps or WIC, nor do local food shelves typically supply these items. Therefore, they can present a significant financial burden on individuals and families with limited income. With the support of Council members and community partners alike, our region secured 731 toiletries that were dispersed across 15 food shelves in the region! This collective impact strategy to fill a notable gap in resources was very well-received by the entire community!
In the last three months, Liz Hamel, Franklin/Grand Isle Regional Coordinator, has met with a prospective child care provider who is looking to open a child care in Grand Isle by August, 2019! Through a collaborative effort between the Parent Child Center-NCSS Child Care specialists and Jen Severence, Community and Program Support Specialist with Let’s Grow Kids, active steps towards making this individual’s dream of opening a child care have been made! This directly offers movement on our Regional Council’s Action Steps and also supports the community’s growing need for more high-quality child cares through the region.