Early Childhood Education
Over 80% of a child’s brain develops in the first three years. As a community, we need to take advantage of this critical window by providing universal access to quality early childhood care and education.
September 5, 2014
A group of early childhood professionals were convened to discuss how to better improve early childhood development in Doña Ana County. At this convening the Early Childhood Education leaders began to strategically plan the development of this document.
December 5, 2014
Many of the same leaders came together to develop the vision statement. The group narrowed their decisions to three options.
February 25, 2016
A group of over 50 participants from 20 organizations attended a convening to continue working on the Early Childhood Plan. Specifically, the group addressed Fully Integrate Systems and identified the following: shared outreach, centralized intake, shared referral sources, shared data and technology, and cross-training workers as way to integrate systems.
The following strategy goals were developed at a convening on September 5, 2014.
- 90% of the brain’s capacity develops before the age of five.This presents a critical window of development that requires consistent cultivation and learning – yet only 21% of children in Dona Ana County attend a free, evidence-based early childhood education program in 2015-2016. Raising awareness in our community about early brain development and the importance of early education will lead to higher enrollment rates in early childhood programs.
Fully Integrate Learning Systems
- Intentionally integrate existing early childhood education organizations, programs, and childcare to create a seamless early learning system of early childhood education services for children and families in Dona Ana County so children do not fall through the cracks. Working together, we can ensure access to high quality education, care, and services, and an adequate transition to public schools.
Children’s Museum and Learning Center
- Establish a children’s museum and learning center that includes innovative learning activities for children and families. The information center will also provide information to parents, families and ECE professionals about all early childhood programs and services available in Dona Ana County.
Access to Quality Early Childhood Education
- Provide affordable access to high-quality early childhood education for every child and family in Dona Ana County. We will continue to conduce research to identify service gaps and provide analysis of how early childhood education service providers can better serve all children across the county.
Workforce Development in Early Childhood
- Quality education depends on the quality educators, but early childhood educators and providers in New Mexico earn just above minimum wage. We will explore data-informed solutions to strengthen the workforce for early childhood professionals, with a focus on specific areas of improvement such as adequate compensation, professional growth, and retention. We will also examine systemic barriers to maintaining a competent well-compensated workforce.
Parent and Family Empowerment
- Parents and families play a crucial role in their children’s development. Giving parents an families access to the tools they need empowers them to positively impact their children’s development. Parents and families will have access to information and trainings in brain development and early learning in English and in Spanish, empowering parents and families to advocate for their children.
- A healthy mom means a healthy baby. This is the first stage for building a child’s brain. Ensuring all expecting mothers have access to maternal health services is an important component of early childhood development. In Addition, making sure expecting moms have access to information on early childhood education programs and organizations ensures that mothers and children are getting the support they need for healthy development right before birth.
Measuring Outcomes and Accountability
- Measuring the effectiveness of early childhood programs is essential so that we can tailor programs, strategies, and policies to maximize the positive impact we have on children. One way to do this is to establish common systems of measurement among early childhood services, programs, and schools to ensure adequate transition into kindergarten.