By Sarah Vrabic, Project Manager, Everyday Learning Play Spaces
As the Everyday Learning Play Spaces team is busy constructing play kitchens, painting chalkboard walls, and meeting with families to design interactive murals, we are thrilled to simultaneously benefit from the generosity of a new partnership with Barbershop Books!
Barbershop Books aims to expand reading opportunities for young Black children, particularly Black boys, by bringing books with protagonists of color into everyday spaces. Our team became acquainted with the Barbershop books team through another one of our partners, Read by 4th. We realized we had similar missions and a shared goal of enhancing young children's everyday environments so they inspire reading and learning through play for the entire family.
Through this partnership, Barbershop Books graciously donated their beautifully colorful bookshelves with excellent books to two of our active sites within the Everyday Learning Play Spaces project: Darlene Morris Love & Care Residential Services and Woodstock Family Center. The bookshelves are the perfect addition to our work at these sites because children can never have too many curated books – especially when they can see themselves as the main character. We are grateful for this partnership and for programs like Barbershop Books, which work to "cultivate children's reading identity."
Both housing programs are already working on story-time events for the families to showcase their new books!
Stay tuned for more updates from the Everyday Learning Play Spaces team as we close out our first renovations during Summer 2023. And watch this video below to see our team in action at Families Forward!
HopePHL collaborates with Early Childhood Education Professionals to create a “Collaborative Strategic Roadmap.”
The William Penn Foundation engaged Vital Village Networks to design and facilitate an inclusive strategic visioning process that convened some of Philadelphia’s early learning program administrators, including HopePHL, to collectively design a scalable strategic plan to increase access to community-based resources for families that holistically support ‘school readiness.’ The group engaged in a strategic visioning process over the past six months to identify innovative strategies for collaboration and partnership that promote family engagement and support child development.
Why is this important? The early childhood education (ECE) system is at a critical juncture. Its challenges include thousands of children on waiting lists, program closures, and more. It must get beyond the pandemic crisis, stabilize, and expand.
HopePHL was included because we work to increase access to high-quality early learning programs for young children experiencing homelessness. In 2022, there were more than 2,300 children experiencing homelessness ages birth through 5 in Philadelphia, and most did not participate in ECE. Although the data from the past 20 years supports that ECE helps children become ready for school and affects academic achievement, the ECE system has yet to recover from the pandemic, negatively affecting ECE providers, families, employers and communities.
Several local, state, and national efforts are underway to improve the system. The report from the Vital Village Network is a local response developed by local leaders. They considered, ‘What do successful partnerships between Philadelphia early learning programs and community-based organizations that promote family engagement and support child development look like?’
The design team, consisting of 15 leaders from early learning programs and community-based organizations, developed the Early Care and Education Collaborative Strategic Roadmap to prioritize collaborative actions and outline elements of successful partnerships between early learning programs and community-based organizations that promote equitable engagement of parents and families that support healthy child development.
This work is critical for families experiencing homelessness and for the homeless housing system. Parents struggle to accept a job because they cannot find childcare, causing families to remain in emergency housing for months or years. Housing programs interested in holistically supporting their families can get active in ECE advocacy campaigns to support a variety of issues that would get the ECE system back on track.
Read the document here: https://www.networksofopportunity.org/ececollaborativeroadmap.
HopePHL thanks the Vital Village team for contributing to this article and the William Penn Foundation for their support and vision.
Highest number of Children and Youth Identified as Homeless in Pennsylvania – 40,003!
HopePHL has summarized the report to continue its series called the “Children Cannot Wait Campaign” (see https://bit.ly/3qAQGIX). Part 1 will explore the data for Pennsylvania; Part 2 will analyze the data for Philadelphia; and Part 3 will look at homelessness by school district.
The findings are cause for concern, and HopePHL intends to engage public leadership on various issues.
Read HopePHL’s policy brief for more findings and recommendations.
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