First5

Have you seen these posters? They show 5 easy, yet really important, ways you can interact with young children. The First5 Early Learning Coalition is taking action to spread the word about the importance of the early lives of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

During the first steering committee meeting, First5 leaders spent some time discussing some of the challenges facing families with young children, and, more importantly, began crafting some action steps to address those challenges. The four themes the coalition will focus on are Family Engagement, Expanding Childcare, Healthy Children and Supportive Communities.

The First5 Early Learning Coordinator, Jeri McCorkle, spent the first year of her term assessing the current state of childcare, collaborating with community services, and sharing findings with community stakeholders about current successes, challenges and the important relevant research on early brain development. There are two major points that she hopes to continue to drive home to the Rush County community. Point 1: 90% of the brain develops during the first five years of life. We must expose our children to high quality care and experiences during their early years. Point 2: The responsibility for creating positive early learning environments extends way beyond the immediate family. It’s a workforce problem. Indiana loses over 1 billion dollars in economic activity every year due to childcare related absenteeism and turnover.

First5 is already working hand-in-hand with some existing providers, such as Lauren Perin of My Bright Beginnings. My Bright Beginnings has been recognized by the state as providing high-quality care. Lauren is an active part of First5. She has formed a networking group that is working to increase both the quality and quantity of local early learning professionals, “We have some great providers in the area. I’m hoping that the opportunity to share ideas and insights will help us all to grow.”

Blasting the community with posters is the first project that the First5 steering committee has chosen. The goal is to spread the word that Rush County supports early learning. The next project will be chosen at the next steering committee meeting. Drawing from the four themes (Family Engagement, Expanding Childcare, Healthy Children and Supportive Communities), the committee will determine the next course of action to support early learning.

If you would like to be a part of the change and solution design, join First5 at 4:44 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at the Rush County Community Foundation Building at 117 N. Main St., Rushville, IN 46173. For more information, email Jeri McCorkle at Jeri@RushELC.org or call the community foundation office at 765-938-1177

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