Studer Community Institute

SCI parent outreach: Building strong partnerships

Students at Jamison Street Preschool in west Pensacola engage in center-based, interactive learning throughout the day. Credit: Shannon Nickinson.

For the past month, I’ve been on mission of discovery.

My objective is to find a parent engagement model to assist mothers, parents and caregivers in the important task of getting their young children prepared and ready for kindergarten.

It’s an awesome task that takes many parts and people working together to find the right solution.

As Studer Community Institute Parent Outreach Coordinator, I spend a lot of time meeting, talking and analyzing programs and programs involved in and with early education.

It could be an agency or organization, a church or a school, a daycare or a Voluntary Pre-K program.

The ultimate goal of this parent outreach initiative is to work with parents and caregivers to build strong and effective partnerships that can help children and families strive.

Everything we plan is with the intentions of giving families the support they want and need to reach better outcomes.

A key part of my efforts is building relationships and creating partnerships to be in the best position to offer parents support to help develop the tools and skills to improve their children’s lives.

It’s about working with people like Shirley Henderson, director of Pensacola Area Housing Commission, and gaining access to the parents the agency serves in several public housing projects around the city.

Getting to know and working with parents and families in Moreno, Gonzalez and Attucks courts opens the doors to providing the services that families need and want to move their families forward.

It could be group skill-building classes that help parents learn the importance of talking to, tuning in and taking turns with their babies.

Building good partnerships takes time and ongoing effort, and I’ll keep working at it, taking small steps at a time to increase opportunities to offer the best services for parents and their children.

At First Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, the Rev. Hailey Lynch, associate pastor for education and children’s ministry, is interested and excited about expanding services for children in the church’s preschool program.

We’re in the beginning stages of starting a partnership that would link SCI, the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia and the church in a project that involves groundbreaking research tools and software that record and produce data on how often and how much parents talk with their babies.

It is these kind of early childhood services the connect families with each other and help access support in the community.

As we leave our footprint in the first steps of making Pensacola America’s First Early Learning City, it is the people with the passion like Carolyn White who can make a difference and set the course for others to follow.

As executive director of Mary’s Little Lamb  on Strong Street, White is a strong advocate for early learning programs that focus on children 0 to 3. In meeting with White, I have laid the groundwork to use her staff, her parents, her facility, if necessary, to begin in the long journey of building a child, building a life and building a community.

Young children flourish when the people caring for them work well together. Partnerships allow children to see important people in their lives working on their behalf to improve their chances of achieving success in their lives.

There are many people, agencies and organizations doing good things in this community to help parents and children reach developmental milestones.

In looking for the right place, people and project to use, create or build upon, Studer Community Institute wants to be a part of early learning movement that gives families and children the best opportunity to find success in their lives today, tomorrow and in the years to come.