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Counties share resources on bolstering early childhood

Participants brainstorm at the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers, held April 23-24 in Salt Lake County, Utah.

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Counties met in Salt Lake County to exchange best practices and successes in prenatal-to-three development through the Pritzker Children's Initiative

Officials from 29 cities and counties recently gathered in Salt Lake County, Utah to swap ideas on how to advance their communities’ youngest residents ages prenatal to 3, through the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT).

Hosted by the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI) and partners Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, participants networked and learned best practices April 23-24, hearing from Utah state Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck and Ruth Watkins, president of the University of Utah.

Discussions highlighted equity, family voice, storytelling and developing a shared sense of immediacy to affect meaningful change for infants, toddlers and their families. 

“This week provided an amazing opportunity for us to meet with the other NCIT communities from across the nation,” said Allison Mays, a Washington County, Va. supervisor.

“Being in the same room with others who have such determination to improve the lives for those prenatal to age three was incredibly inspiring,” she said.

“We all have the same goal of providing stronger support systems for these infants and children and their families, realizing that helping one is helping us all," she noted. "We’re extremely proud of the work we are doing in Washington County, Va. and are grateful for the support from NACo and the Pritzker Foundation." 

In 2017, the National Association of Counties Research Foundation (NACoRF) partnered with NCIT, a project funded through PCI, which brings together national partners, early childhood leaders, philanthropy, policymakers and practitioners from inside and outside state and local government to create and strengthen promising policies and programs, so that more states and communities can support the healthy development of the youngest children. Joined by partners at the National League of Cities, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality and Strive Together, NACo provides tailored and intensive technical assistance to eight counties, selected through a competitive application process, to expand and strengthen their early childhood systems for children from prenatal to age three. 

Over the past year, these selected communities have convened stakeholder groups, assessed their early childhood systems, set ambitious goals connected to a framework of shared outcomes, created detailed action plans and are currently in the process of implementing their diverse local strategies. The All Community Convening gave NCIT communities the opportunity to showcase their PN-3 efforts and share best practices. 

Councilmember Derek Young of Pierce County, Wash., who spoke on a panel about innovating and promising financing strategies and solutions shared that “the convening was a great opportunity to trade ideas and learn from experts in early childhood development. I walked away with several ideas that I know will benefit families in Pierce County. I’m glad NACoRF is leading on this issue.”

Many resources were shared to help counties develop and enhance their early childhood agendas. To access those resources, or for more information on how your county can join this movement to help all young children reach their full potential, contact Tracy Steffek at tsteffek@naco.org and visit www.thencit.org.

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