Over 20 members of the Early Matters Chattanooga coalition traveled to Nashville for the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth’s 2019 Children’s Advocacy Days this week to collaborate with fellow early childhood advocates from across the state and learn how to best prepare our youngest learners.
“We are encouraged and empowered after speaking with and learning from fellow early childhood thought leaders from across Tennessee and the country over the past two days,” said Phil Acord, President and CEO of Chambliss Center for Children. “Everyone there shared our view that high-quality early care and education of babies, toddlers and preschoolers has the greatest impact on lifelong success. Our coalition is proud to support all caregivers, parents and child care providers in attaining the best information and coaching to help our youngest citizens.”
Throughout the two-day conference, members from various Hamilton County organizations attended keynote panels with local and national presenters, led conversations with legislators, and participated in networking opportunities with leaders in early childhood education from across the state. In attendance were members from Chattanooga 2.0, Chambliss Center for Children, Signal Centers, Save the Children, Chattanooga Public Library, Northside Learning Center, Parents are First Teachers, and Chattanooga’s Office of Early Learning.
“It was renewing, motivating, and encouraging to hear all of these people on board with the same purpose to promote positive brain development and help children live better, stronger, and healthier lives.” said Shandra Fritz, a parent educator with Parents are First Teachers. “This statewide collaboration has shown me that not only are other people in it just like we are, but what we do matters. Our work is valuable and important to the lives of children in Hamilton County and throughout Tennessee.”
Early Matters Chattanooga is the early childhood arm of the Chattanooga 2.0 coalition. The group supports a two-generation approach to working with families from pregnancy through early childhood to offer home visitation, parenting support, developmental screenings, quality early learning experiences, and to promote family resiliency.
CAD provided Chattanooga child care employees and other organizations from across the state the opportunity to meet with state legislators and have productive conversations to provide insight into local districts.
“They’re normally so far away, so it’s fulfilling to meet face-to-face with our local representatives on behalf of the families I serve and to express the needs in our community,” said Patricia Chastain, Case Manager for Signal Centers-Baby University. “Our representatives need to know children, especially in the Latino community, often go straight to Kindergarten and are in extreme need of early supports.”
The Early Matters coalition is leading the early childhood efforts throughout Hamilton County including educating community members on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), equipping parents with the Chattanooga Basics, and launching the Hospital Visitation Program in area hospitals to provide new parents with free tools and resources.