Stafford has been collaborating with the Graustein Memorial Fund to improve the lives of children in the community since 2001. Originally, the work focused on enhancing social, emotional, and academic performance through a series of family fun nights. The presentations taught families skills in communication, conflict resolution, and appreciating diversity. The events were well attended and the group was encouraged to maintain the format it had been presenting.
In 2006, Stafford’s Discovery Steering Committee merged with SEEC, Stafford Early Education Council. SEEC already brought together numerous local and state community organizations including the School Readiness Council, Head Start, Family Resource Center, PTOs, public library, government officials, clergy, DCF, health care providers, and it was time to bring everyone working on early childhood concerns into one collaborative. This new partnership allowed the small community of Stafford to increase communication and cooperation among the agencies and avoid the duplication of programs and services for young children and families.
For the past 15 years, Stafford has been extremely fortunate to be able to offer public Pre-K for nearly all 3 and 4 year-olds in the community at no charge to families. The program runs both a.m. and p.m. sessions 5 days/week during the school year with transportation provided. This has resulted in an extremely high percentage of Pre-K attendance. The community is also unique in that Head Start, School Readiness, and the Family Resource Center are all housed within one of the schools offering Pre-K. Having all of these programs incorporated directly into the school system has minimized the number of transitions for our youngest learners.
In the summer of 2009, SEEC members representing parents, the school system, the Family Resource Center, and Head Start held a three-day long-range planning and evaluation retreat, facilitated by a Graustein Liaison. As a result of these meetings, SEEC partnered with TSI Harley Davidson and the Stafford Police Department to launch a bike helmet initiative in an effort to improve the safety of young children in town. The initiative provided 250 bike helmets to community children and their families as well as instructions on how to properly wear the equipment.
The following year, Stafford received a community-planning grant from the WCGMF. SEEC leadership began recruiting its members as well as community leaders, health professionals, and parents, to become a part of the Community Planning Committee. Five members of the group completed the Results Based Accountability training, and the entire collaborative developed their result statement:
All Stafford children birth to age 8 will have a safe, healthy and secure home and community in which to learn and grow.
Over the past 8 months, a sub-committee has worked to collect and evaluate copious amounts of data. In conjunction with other collaborative members and with input from community focus groups and stakeholders, the Data Committee identified specific data that is compelling and relevant to the current condition of the community with regards to the result statement. Strategic area sub-committees were then chosen based on the result statement; learning, health & development, and safe & secure. Those committees are now working to develop the story behind the data, and identifying strategies for improving the condition of the community.
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