Monday, January 7, 2019

Keeping our promise to give every child a successful start

Six years ago, Pittsfield Promise introduced us to story of a young child named Marquis born to a young, single mother, named Tina. Tina was living with her grandmother and had limited access to resources in the community, and very little support at home to help raise her child.  Marquis arrived at Kindergarten lacking many of the skills needed to be successful in school; he was significantly behind his peers.  

If Marquis were born today, Tina would have immediately been connected to a home visiting program by the hospital.  The home visiting program would provide intensive weekly sessions with Tina, providing her with parenting skills, and knowledge about child development.  They would connect her to housing, and food pantries to meet some of her basic needs.  As Tina’s confidence grew as a parent, along with the promise to secure a better life for her child, she’d decide to go back to work; she’d be connected to a training program and child care.  The child care center would provide monthly family nights; Tina would build friendships and a support network with the families there.  Reports from teachers would show that Marquis was progressing nicely and offer some suggestions to continue his development at home.  Tina would carve out an extra 30 minutes in her day to read to him daily, and on weekends, they’d attend the library, museum, and free community events. As Marquis entered kindergarten he received a screening during his first week of school and scored in the in the 80th percentile of his class.  

Cynthia Segui, Coordinator of the Berkshire United Way funded Parent-Child Home Program at Community Health Programs, reads to a local child during a home visit.
Since 2012, we have mobilized community partners to assure our young families have a strong start, yet less than 50% of our students reading proficiently by 3rd Grade. What have we missed?  Berkshire United Way is working with a nationally recognized research firm with support of a grant from the Tri-Mix Foundation to help answer this question.  Through a mix of anonymous parent surveys, focus groups, interviews with key stakeholders, and research of national models, we plan to understand what is working for our families and what is not.  We want to keep our promise, to make sure that every child, like Marquis, has a successful start in life.  

Please join us at our next Pittsfield Promise meeting on January 11th at 8:30 am at the Family Resource Center to us build a family strong community.  Contact Karen Vogel at for more information.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Stephanie Adornetto
Coordinator of Early Childhood Development

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