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A Partnership to Support the Birth to 3rd Grade Work Group

The following is a guest blog post by Lynda Petersen, Associate Director of the Community Center for Education Results and staffer for the Road Map Project Birth to 3rd Grade Work Group.

When I started staffing the Road Map Project’s Birth to 3rd Grade Work Group in 2011, I had no idea how the group would evolve over the years or how much the early learning landscape would shift at the state and regional levels. Now, in 2016, the work group is building off years of strong planning and implementation work to better support our youngest learners. A new position within a partner organization was recently created to support the work group now and into the future.

In 2014, two years after finalizing the first Birth to 3rd Grade action plan and almost two years into the Road Map District Race to the Top grant, the work group decided to reflect on the shifting landscape and reconsider their top strategies to achieve the common goals of improving school readiness and 3rd grade reading rates and closing the opportunity gaps for children of color. This process was supported and accelerated thanks to Leslie Dozono, a local consultant with experience in early learning and facilitating cross-sector groups. Leslie’s fresh perspective helped the group update its action plan and continue their work to prioritize a set of strategies.

While this work was underway, many group members contributed to concurrent discussions about options for work group structure and governance moving forward. We now have a steering committee that provides strategic direction for the group and meets monthly. The full work group meets quarterly and several of the strategies have implementation teams that meet as-needed. With these important structural components in place, the staffing and support the group needs to be successful is different.

In order for the Birth to 3rd Grade Work Group to make progress in the next few years, the group needs strong support during – and especially in between – their regular meetings. The cross-sector teams working on strategy implementation need project management support and the entire group needs effective communications to support advocacy efforts. These are not short-term needs, so working with a consultant did not seem like the right move. Building capacity to support effective cross-sector work to achieve common goals is an important role of the Road Map Project. With that in mind, helping to build that capacity within a partner organization that is a leader in supporting families and communities in King County felt like the right move for the work group.

I am excited to announce that CCER has entered into a partnership with SOAR to support the staffing and implementation of the work group. This partnership is helping to build capacity in an important organization for our region; one that can help take this work to the next level. In addition to being a leader in family and community engagement, SOAR staffs the King County Early Learning Coalition, one of nine coalitions across the state. There are many overlapping priorities and, with intention, we can better align them and make progress on common priorities.

I look forward to continuing to participate as a member of the work group and contributing as much as I can to the successful implementation of the strategies and the collective work. In particular, I hope to bring connections to other parts of the Road Map Project that can support the group’s efforts.

I am thankful for all of the discussions with work group members over the past few months that have led to this partnership. I especially look forward to working closely with Paula Steinke, the new Executive Director at SOAR, and her whole team.

Please help spread the word about the Early Learning Collaboration Manager position at SOAR, the position that will support the work group. I am excited about this new chapter and the great potential we have in our region to support children and families!