WCGMF Discovery

Founded in 1995 with leadership funding from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, CFI improves the quality of life for children and families through community-wide collaborative action and increased parent involvement in civic life. More

About Children First Initiative (CFI)
Founded in 1995 with leadership funding from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, CFI improves the quality of life for children and families through community-wide collaborative action and increased parent involvement in civic life.

What we care about
CFI activities aim to help children and their families
succeed in school and life by tackling issues related to:

  • Health and safety
  • Family self-sufficiency
  • Early care and education

How we take action

  • Provide parents with training programs to become more effective leaders for their children and communities by understanding and acting on policy, budgets and services that improve the lives of children.
  • Serve as Meriden’s citywide convener on children’s issues, hosting regular dialogues and strategy sessions that unite active parents with leaders from child care, education, health, public policy and other community sectors.
  • Publish research and resources on Meriden’s young people and families so the community has clear data on which to base its decisions.

Successes Over the Years:

  • Helped capture $700,000 in pioneer School Readiness funding, which improves the affordability and quality of child care so that 3 and 4 year olds thrive in the early school grades.
  • Led a successful campaign to expand the school breakfast program to all Meriden elementary schools.
  • Created parent-led ‘Buddy Reader’s’ literacy program, connecting 80 seniors with 200 young children who need extra reading support. Reading scores have improved as a result. 
  • Publications include Guide to Education Budget, child and family resource directories, and the Early Childhood Blueprint plan.
  • Worked with Board of Ed and City of Meriden to expand full-day kindergarten in 2012. 
  • Engaged more than 1000 Meriden area residents to advocate to fix CT’s broken health care system.
  • Helped advance plans to upgrade Meriden’s two high schools.
  • Graduated more than 200 from the Meriden Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI)

Operations and Management
To support these activities, CFI has a full-time director and nine part-time staff.   A 16 member volunteer board of parent and community leaders oversee operations.  The annual CFI budget is about $275,000.  Of this, 95% comes from foundations local business, and individual contributions. 

Current investors include:  Graustein Memorial Fund, CDBG, Universal Health Care Foundation, Napier Foundation, Cuno Foundation, Meriden Foundation, and more.

Children First Works with Community Partners to Improve the Lives of Meriden Children including:
Family Resource Centers
Meriden Public Library
Meriden Chamber of Commerce
School Readiness Council
CT Commission on Children
Meriden Housing Authority
Women and Families Center
YMCA
Child Guidance Clinic
United Way
YMCA Head Start
Meriden Public Schools
NAACP
Meriden Federation of Teachers
MidState Medical Center
Meriden Health Department
City of Meriden
Community Health Center
CT Works
And many more!

 

Discovery Work

Grant Option: 
Plan Implementation

Population Results Statement: 
All children will come to school ready, willing, and able to succeed.

Indicators

Early Care & Education: 
% of children considered “ready” for K based on early literacy skills as measured by the kindergarten assessment
% improvements with District Reading Assessments/CMT in school system
% of children involved with quality preschool program
Health: 
% of eligible children enrolled in HUSKY
% of mothers who receive prenatal care
Developmental and health screenings for young children
Family Support: 
% of mothers who achieve high school diploma and thus are “job ready”
% of parents getting job training and placement

Community Demographics

Population: 
60,674
DRG: 
H
District Designation: 
Priority/Alliance
ELL Percent: 
11%

Community Contacts

Primary Community Contact: 

Paul Vivian
203-630-3566 | pjvivian@aol.com