CHATTANOOGA, TN – Chattanooga 2.0 leaders announced Wednesday the launch of a three-year action plan for early childhood in Hamilton County. The Early Matters 2025 Early Childhood Action plan outlines strategies to improve the local early care and education system and is the culmination of one year of research and community engagement to determine what young children need to thrive in Chattanooga-Hamilton County.
Research has repeatedly shown that the first eight years of a child’s life are a critical development period, and third grade is widely acknowledged as a benchmark year that determines future academic success. Early Matters members engaged community and young families to understand the needs leading up to that benchmark, and then identified evidence-based strategies that will now be piloted to see if they work well locally.
The steering committee invites community members, service providers, and businesses to learn how they can impact the early childhood system by visiting www.chatt2.org/brightstart to review a summary of the plan and download a copy.
The plan describes community strengths in the systems that serve families with young children, as well as barriers families face when they try to access quality education, health, and family support services. Also included in the plan is local early childhood data, the results of a Spring 2022 early childhood survey of young families, and a list of current state and local policies that are not serving families well.
For the last year, Chattanooga 2.0 has led one of six inaugural partnerships of the Bright Start Tennessee Network – a new statewide initiative of Tennesseans for Quality Early Education to accelerate early learning outcomes and close achievement and opportunity gaps for Tennessee children birth through third grade.
A letter signed by the Chairs of the Hamilton County Children’s Cabinet (Hamilton County Schools superintendent, Justin Robertson; Hamilton County mayor, Weston Wamp; and City of Chattanooga mayor, Tim Kelly) is included in the plan and encourages community members to work together to ensure children have the early supports needed to be successful in third grade and beyond.