I have raised seven children in eastern Washington and am embedded in the community. I have been a Director of an Early Learning Center, adjunct faculty, Education Manager and currently an Early Childhood Specialist contractor with the Office of Head Start in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. I am a strong proponent of strong systems to meet the needs of the youngest members of our communities and their families.
There is an epidemic now in the landscape of early childhood professionals. They are leaving for better pay and less stress. State and federal funding are there but with so many systems that are siloed it is difficult to get a strong foundation of preparation, salary and infrastructure to support high quality early learning. It is a necessity that we look at how we serve our 0-8 children.
There is a strong desire to understand trauma-informed systems and boost teacher preparation so that teachers and administrators can help young children meet social emotional competencies. This is a key part of moving children successfully into the K-12 system. My goal in my career is to be a champion for families, all families and help create systems that are coordinated, strong and innovative. Systems that build capacity so that families can be successful.
When parents have the tools, children can feel safe and learning can take place. There are so many good things started but momentum and vision are needed to continue meeting the needs of children and families. Continuing to do the same thing, as the gap gets wider, only creates a larger problem. We need a bridge and someone to help create that bridge. Every child needs a champion both at home and the voice in the crowd.
Catherine G Dennis, MS. EdS.
Early Childhood Specialist, Region X