As any parent knows, it takes a lot to raise a child, and every child has unique needs. Helping a child grow, learn, and stay healthy is a parent’s most important job. Fortunately, there are many programs available to support strong families.
It is important that all of these services work together to create a seamless system of support for families raising young children. That’s why Charla Boley, AmeriCorps VISTA with First Things First, held a meeting for organizations to network, share, and discuss how they can collaborate to best support the needs of young children in the Verde Valley area.
The meeting, held on Wednesday, January 29th at the County Building in Cottonwood, was attended by 30 early childhood professionals and community members, including representatives from Yavapai County Community Health Services, Buena Vista Children’s Services, First Things First, area preschools, faith communities, South West Human Development, Verde Valley Guidance Clinic, Arizona’s Children Association, Yavapai College, and DES. Participants shared their visions and goals for their work in the community, and discussed ways that they could work together.
“My vision is to better inform the community about the importance of social and emotional development in young children,” said Virginia Hout, supervisor of Smart Support, an early childhood mental health program. “If children don’t build these skills early, the academic skills they need later won’t follow.”
The group agreed that networking and sharing meetings like this one are critical for professionals working to effectively support early childhood health and development. “It’s great to look around and see people on the same team, working to strengthen the early childhood system,” said Erin Mabery of Buena Vista Children’s Services.
“I’m glad we’re here to learn about available resources so that we can share them with parents to help strengthen families and keep children safe,” said Kenya Hernandez of DES, who is also a parent of two young children.
This is the first of a series of meetings to support collaboration in the early childhood health and education community. Any interested parent, organization, or community member is welcome to attend. To receive information about future meetings, please contact Charla Boley of First Things First at (928)-776-0062.