01.25.05 NOTES: 90.3@9 discussion on Early Child Development

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 01/25/2005 - 09:21.

What will NEO look like in 2010 if we focus on Early Childhood Development (ECD) supporting pregnant women, babies and children - for them and for economic development

Forum 02/01 is part of a process leading to regional action plan. Roberta Waxman-Lenz at REI, Joe Gauntner (sp?) Dir. Cuyahoga County Center for Family and Children and Joyce Bressler (sp?) at Starting Point.

Q. What will come out of this forum? A. Depends on the participants

Invited five subcommunities - silos - Early childhood development, Early childhood trainers, Businesses as employers, Government policy people, and Philanthropic.

Cleveland grew up as "location" but now needs to compete on "education".

This focus on early child development focus started 6 years ago focusing on healthcare and country is planning to fund $0.5 million for lead abatement.

Workplace has two single parent and dual parent working families limiting parent time with children - also need to focus on quality of care for children when parents are working. Survey shows in Cleveland we are lagging behind the rest of the region and nation in employers providing support for parents - result of bad local economic conditions.

County rep provides health insurance to 0.5 million in Cuyahoga County, and also subsidized childcare, and earned income tax credit.

Q. What is challenge getting people to realize connection between ECD and economy? A. Minnesota Fed Reserve study shows the impact - $1K investment in ECD has 16% return over time

Q. Any other models REI is looking at? A. Columbia University and paper found in CA - see EDPro for links.

Q. What has been public reaction to program - business interest? A. Some companies will be at the 02/01 forum to talk about on-site childcare but these investments are long term and businesses in current economic climate tend to focus on immediate returns so even with clear long term economic advantages it is hard to convince employers

Starting Point looks at what type of childcare they provide employees - it is important to quality of work environment - reduce absenteeism and distraction from latchkey kids. Some employers don't realize there is a problem or need.

County looks to subsidize healthcare but neuroscience shows the importance of 0-3 year old development - not just in inner-city but all families - reading to child and stimulating young minds.

Waxman-Lenz points out that like we invested in physical infrastructure in past now we must invest in children's minds as the infrastructure for the future.

Call-in Questions:

Q - Caller is very concerned about conception to 2-years old. A. As most people are now aware brain starts developing in womb and is working from birth forward so it is essential to stimulate the brain - state has funded specialists to help teach about this. Country has a home visit by a nurse available - Invest In Children Program, which links into Healthy Start Program - to provide early child support - help develop better environment for children - tends to focus on moms with most needs.

Q - Caller says Shaker Heights has pulled plug on early reading program. A - Municipalities have to focus on short term budgets - Country responds they must look longer terms.

Q - Voice opinion that ECD programs are important not just for low income but for special needs kids - has downs syndrome child and they lived in Tennessee before and they had a great early intervention program - really helped out

If you look across Ohio you'll find a range of capabilities - in Cuyahoga we have good leadership in many departments and they work together very well - good network of resources... "blessed with". Now dealing with issues of scale - ongoing needs drive more demand for services - pushing up costs and causing funding crunch - local foundations have contributed to developing programs but government must provide long term solutions.

Forum is a collaboration of REI, CSU, Starting Point, County...

Q. Moderator - How do you get awareness out in the community to employers? A. More businesses like CVS and Target are realizing there is an economic impact. This forum is pushing awareness.

Joyce points out there are tax benefits for starting ECD programs on-site or near-by - Starting Point also has programs for disabled kids - call and ask for resource specialist.

Caller points out he has worked with an ECD center and tried to get business to realize there are needs and opportunities and they don't understand importance - encourages more be done.

Waxman-Lenz points out we need to increase awareness on issues and what businesses and philanthropy can do as silos and in collaboration as an integrated approach - alignment - and that leads to appropriate action to move region forward. First meeting Feb 1 has 11 speakers to increase awareness.

County talks of new work for cities and counties to work in regional way to develop workforce - can't spend energy competing city vs. city and county vs. county but work together to raise more talented kids region-wide.

Caller claims this is a Cuyahoga County program and ignores other poorer regions like Lorain County where needs are as great - Waxman-Lenz says invitations were sent to leaders in other regions and while these type of initiatives do tend to come out of Cuyahoga/Cleveland they are not focused on there - Universities Collaborative is represented in many counties and focuses on entire region, but they need to jump in and become involved... good focus for this forum.

Caller who does research on the brain points out ECD starts in womb - 2nd trimester is when much brain development happens and prenatal care and early child stimulation and testing is critical - earlier the better.

Last words on getting messages to area businesses and community leaders.

County: Business leaders can get involved by sharing knowledge about ECD with employees.

Waxman-Lenz - "Children are 20% of our population but 100% of our future"

Joyce - What would NEO look like if we became experts in ECD by 2010? There are websites with further info - mentions REALNEO and EDPro - and WCPN.org making change.