The Building Bright Futures (BBF) State Advisory Council kicked off their Jan 28th meeting with an overview of the hiring process for a new Executive Director, and an overview of the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) that was just awarded to multiple partners including BBF. We also provided a brief overview of our new website, which will launch in the coming days.
We then undertook a partner exercise that enabled everyone to dig into the How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families Report more deeply. After some time reading through a specific chapter, participants paired up to talk about specific data points that jumped out at them.
Beth Truzansky led a discussion about making targeted updates to Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP) in 2019. Updating the plan is one of the deliverables in the PDG grant. The group identified some key strengths of the current plan including the fact that the Early Childhood Framework and Results of the Action Plan our strong, and any updated strategic plan should build on this foundation. The group then discussed priorities and criteria for updates to the plan including: incorporating Vermont’s Guiding Principles for the Full Participation of Each and Every Child and Family to bring an equity lens across all results, choosing strategies based on impact, keeping regional voice in mind, and identifying data indicators to help us monitor progress toward goals. This conversation was a strong first step as we prepare to update the Early Childhood Action Plan.
Finally, we addressed the 2019 SAC policy priorities that the council identified in November of last year:
- Expand and strengthen early childhood mental health supports, services, and consultation across multiple settings; and
- Grow the early childhood workforce across sectors
Small group discussions addressed the following questions in order to help the council prepare for action in the coming year:
- What questions do you have around this policy areas?
- What existing efforts are underway in these areas?
- What action can you envision in relation to these issues?
Groups reported back on their conversations, revealing many questions and ideas on each topic area. The topic of mental health supports seemed particularly complex and in need to tighter definition. One idea was to convene a think tank on children’s mental health to identify specific recommendations that could be presented to the Governor and Legislature.
There were several ideas around growing the workforce, many of which talked about aligning education programs starting at the high school level. Additional ideas about salary and loan forgiveness aligned with the work of the Building Vermont’s Future Think Tank, though the SAC is looking at this topic as reaching beyond the early care and learning field.