8. May 2012 10:43
Last week many members of the Partnership staff had the opportunity to attend the 2012 National Smart Start Conference in Greensboro, NC. Durham's Partnership for Children had the chance to share some of our successes with Faith Initiative Coordinator Winnie Morgan presenting a workshop called "Faith in Our Future: Mobilizing the Faith Community to Embrace Early Childhood as a Community Priority," while Executive Director Laura Benson and Board member Derwin Dubose presented on "Securing Political Support in Challenging Times."
After four days of workshops on everything from family support to early health, the conference concluded with a celebration lunch. The lunch included a roundtable discussion featuring Major General Charles Luckey, Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff for Reserve Matters, Bill Shore, Chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute of Competitive Workforce Development, and Linda Smith, Deputy Assistant and Interdepartmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Their discussion centered around the key role of early childhood in developing our nation's human capital and ensuring that we will remain a competitive force in the years to come. Bill Shore spoke to the need for quality early care to prepare children for success in school and life, thus preparing a competitive workforce for corporate America. He encouraged corporations to invest in early childhood as they will surely benefit from the well-educated and driven workers that will result. Major General Luckey addressed the issue of early care and education as one of national security. With fewer than 1 in 4 people between the ages of 18 and 25 eligible to enlist in the military today, it is clear that many children are not getting the foundation they need in their earliest years. Not providing our young children and their families with the support and resources they need today means that we are putting our ability to be a competitive military force at risk for tomorrow.
Linda Smith emphasized the need for leaders in early childhood to come up with concrete plans. Rather than waiting for funding to come to us, we need to ask for exactly what we need, clearly laying out what we plan to do and the benefits that will follow. We need to mobilize and energize the public for early childhood, making it not merely an issue, but a movement.
To learn more about the National Smart Start Conference, click here.