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Children’s Advocacy Day 2016

Children's Advocacy Day 2016

Kentucky Promise Zone Early Childhood Team Kick-off

Berea, KY.–The Kentucky Promise Zone Early Childhood Team held its inaugural meeting on December 4, 2015 to begin working toward the result that all Promise Zone children will enter Kindergarten ready to learn.

The future vitality of the region depends on the wellbeing of its youngest citizens, and their wellbeing depends upon solid educational attainment that starts at birth. The early childhood team was organized to provide backbone support and to align organizations that serve children and families within the Promise Zone. Their goals are to assist families, as partners, in addressing the challenges they encounter while raising children and to ensure all children within the Zone are healthy, emotionally secure, and ready to learn when they enter school. The Early Childhood Team is led by Dreama Gentry, J.D. She is the convener of the Promise Zone Education Working Group.

Photo Credit: http://kidsnow.ky.gov/

Photo Credit: http://kidsnow.ky.gov/

The Early Childhood Team Kick-Off began on Thursday with dinner at Boone Tavern. Terry Tolan, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, shared what her agency is doing to improve kindergarten readiness across the state. On Friday, the planning session opened with a review of early childhood profiles of the Promise Zone Counties. The profiles show that only 43% of children in the Promise Zone were ready for kindergarten last year as compared to 50% of children in Kentucky. The percentage of children ready for Kindergarten corresponds with the number of children in the Zone who did not attend any kind of preschool. Participants agreed that they needed to develop a Zone-wide school readiness action plan that effectively engages families, schools, and agencies in the Promise Zone with aligned strategies to improve those outcomes.

EarlyChildhoodKickoffThe group discussed success strategies to move past that baseline to the target outcome and identified potential partners that could contribute to the effort. Theory of Aligned Contributions: An Emerging Theory of Change Primer by Jolie Bain Pillsbury, stresses that “population level changes are most likely to occur if a core group of multi-sector, cross-agency leaders not only respond to a call to action, but also take aligned actions at scope and scale towards a result. Without alignment of actions the quest for change is just business as usual.”

The day culminated in the development of four specific strategies to drive the work on early childhood education in the Promise Zone: reaching the underserved, strengthening families, diminishing substance abuse, and improving program quality.  The team will meet again in January to being executing these strategies within the Promise Zone.

The following individuals participated in the inaugural session:

Mitch Bailey
Bell County Preschool Program

Lisa Baker
Bell‐Whitley Community
Action Agency

Laura Barber
Save the Children

Angie Boggs
Save the Children

Melissa Bond
CEDIK

Beth Brown
Partners for Education at
Berea College 

Adrienne Bush
Hazard Perry County
Community Ministries

Jodi Carroll
Union College

Tish Coldiron
KCEOC Head Start

Sandra Combs
Hazard Independent Schools 

Angela Cooper
Clay County Early Childhood Council

Matthew Courtney
Bluegrass Center for
Teacher Quality

Miranda Fields
Harlan Christian School

Lee Ann Gabbard
Save the Children

Mike Hammons
Children, Inc. 

Penny Hill
Bell‐Whitley Community
Action Agency

Tennant Kirk
Partners for Education at
Berea College 

Sky Marietta
Pine Mountain Settlement School

Bob Martin
Clear Creek Creative 

Marlene McKenzie
Partners for Education at
Berea College

Jennifer Miller
Governor’s Office of Early Childhood

Megan Moses
Corbin Independent School

Missy Roberts
Clay County Schools

Tim Rogers
Elgin Foundation

Annie RooneyFrench
KDE

Melissa Saylor
KCEOC Early Head Start 

Renee Sexton
LKLP Head Start 

Jennifer Sloan
KEDC 

Terry Tolan
Governor’s Office of Early Childhood

June Widman
Eastern Kentucky
Child Care Coalition

The team encourages participation from all organizations and programs that serve children and families within the Promise Zone.  Please connect with Jennifer_roberts@berea.edu to be added to the team mailing list.