Saturday, April 19, 2014

Help Me Grow Campaign Kicks Off At WWMS

On Saturday, March 29, 2014 Woodrow Wilson Middle School Media Center, eighteen parent leaders and community leaders including Mayor Dan Drew and the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Charles, gathered to kick off the statewide Help Me Grow Campaign with a Community Cafe. The event was hosted by parent leaders who presented the question “What do babies and young children need to become thriving adults?” The guests offered responses that represented common themes such as engaged community providers, nurturing relationships with caretakers, healthy boundary and limit setting, social skills and access to socializations, quality education, health care supports and safe and stable environments.
Two follow up questions were asked of the group they were:”How well does our community meet the needs of these young children? and Where can our community improve?”
According to the three separate discussions, we have excellent services available to families some appear to overlap. The guests reported the community has great support with regard to health and wellbeing, education support and literacy and opportunities during the day for socialization.
Areas where our community can improve were expansive and covered many topics:
  • Instill an Infant Toddler Education Focus
  • Fight Stigma associated with mental health, race, poverty
  • Fund the programs that work
  • Advertise Programs Better
  • Honest Collaboration Between Agencies
  • Subsidized Housing ( more and better access to)  This topic had strong representation.
  • Improve public transportation so families have access to services
  • Respite time for families with children with mental health issues
  • Fight Financial Inequality
  • Affordable 0-3 childcare available on a busline (strong representation)

  • Outcome
    There are unmet needs for children emphasizing affordable and subsidized housing. Families struggle to find housing they can afford in a safe setting for young children. Other needs focused on access to playgroups at different times of the day and safe environments. The community and parents are engaged. Parents in need of improving their relationships with their children, needing developmental information or understanding children’s mental health can access a host of services through Middlesex Hospital. Inadequate transportation continues to be a barrier for families receiving services as well as quality 0 to 3 care which is affordable and accessible.
    There was consensus in the group for reporting the outcomes to the Family support Committee of Middlesex Coalition for Children in hopes they will be able to use it in planning.
    The event was rounded out with messaging from The Help Me Grow Campaign; emphasizing early developmental screening for children ages 0 to 5.  The philosophy of the campaign stresses parents and caretakers know their children best and all children should be screened developmentally through Ages and Stages Questionnaires. The campaign supports this with free access to ASQ’s  through the Help Me Grow hotline at 1-800-505-7000.
    Special Thanks to:
    United Way, Middlesex County Parent Leadership, Middlesex Hospital Family Advocacy Program, Office of Early Childhood, Help Me Grow Campaign, Middletown Public Schools.

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