Guilford County’s Health Department has a number of programs designed to support children and their families with healthy development. One of them is Care Management for At-Risk Children, also known as CMARC. That’s a recent name change – you may know them better as Care Coordination for Children (CC4C.)
“CMARC is a team of nurses and social workers who provide comprehensive care management for children from birth up until their 5th birthday,” said Deborah Goddard, CMARC’s supervisor. “A lot of the work we do is in direct correlation to the work Ready Ready does. We help prepare children for school readiness by helping parents identify and address any learning or developmental concerns they may have about their child. In addition to developmental concerns, the children in the CMARC program must have a chronic health condition or be impacted by Social Determinants of Health. Care Managers also help families that are being impacted by challenging levels of toxic stress and trauma.
One of the things that make our program unique is that we have always provided home visits for any CMARC family that desires a home visit. It’s so important to engage families in their own environments as it can often provide valuable insight about the child and family’s needs that might not otherwise be obtained. Goddard said that Guilford County families can participate in the CMARC program at no cost to the family as there are no income guidelines to be in the CMARC program. Children are referred by various sources such as pediatric offices, hospitals, the Department of Social Services (child protective services/ foster care), preschools/child care centers, and other community agencies.
CMARC care managers along with the parent work together to develop a care plan and goals that are tailored to meet the child and family’s needs. CMARC care managers also encourage parents to develop strong relationships with their child’s medical providers and work to link families to various community resources. “While it’s the child that is our primary focus, we try to help the whole family,” Goddard said. “If the parent needs housing or a job resource, or services for domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, or transportation, we try to help the parent get linked to the organizations that can help them. As many studies have shown, the parent’s needs and behavior often have a direct influence on the child’s overall development and wellbeing.”
With 27 years of community services experience and visiting families in their homes, Goddard said she has an immense appreciation for the parenting journey and each family’s individual path. Goddard also stated she is extremely grateful to lead a team of skilled and professional care managers who are dedicated to serving approximately 650 CMARC families in our community each month.
(Greensboro, N.C., May 12, 2022) – Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) has received a $50,000 grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to support the organization’s three-year Equity Action Plan. The implementation of this plan will ensure consistent, equitable practices across the organization.
Ready Ready’s mission is to create a connected, innovative system of care for our community’s youngest children and families while eliminating racial disparities. We know that racial disparity is a driving force in the negative outcomes families experience in health, education, and their overall well-being. Core values at Ready Ready include a commitment to being family-led, equity-driven, and inclusive and responsive to evidence.
“Through the continued partnership with the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, Ready Ready aims to move our racial equity work from design to implementation and become a model for other organizations in North Carolina and the nation to follow,” said Charrise Hart, Ready Ready’s chief executive officer.
Ready Ready’s Equity Action Plan includes strategies to build a culture of belonging and deepening equitable family engagement in Ready Ready as well as the development of a plan and set of practices to engage partners in Ready Ready’s racial equity work. This, combined with strategies to lead ongoing conversations around equity issues with staff, parents, committees, and board, will support the shift of power to families.
“At Ready Ready, we know that to achieve population-level change and eliminate disparities, we must be intentional in our racial equity work,” said Heather Adams, interim vice president of public will building. “Racial disparities persist and result in poor outcomes for far too many families in Guilford County. Implementation of our Equity Action Plan is core to our mission and to the success of this system of care for Guilford County families.”
The Equity Action Plan builds on a previous Pritzker Children’s Initiative grant that enabled Ready Ready to deliver racial equity training to all levels of our organization and develop an Equity Statement.
(Greensboro, N.C., May 12, 2022) – Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) is honored to receive a $25,000 grant from the Lincoln Financial Foundation to promote early literacy and kindergarten readiness for Guilford County children.
The work accomplished through the Lincoln Financial Foundation has never been more important. Kindergarten readiness continues to decline in Guilford County. In 2018-19 40% of all Guilford County kindergarteners met expected language and literacy skills at the beginning of the year. In 2021-22 just 27% of all Guilford County kindergarteners were considered proficient in those skills.
“The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant gaps in learning, and learning loss will continue to have a dramatic impact,” said Charrise Hart, Ready Ready’s chief executive officer. “The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is more important than ever. Through our partnership with Lincoln Financial Foundation, Ready Ready will continue its efforts to support and equip our youngest learners with the tools and skills necessary to become successful readers by the end of third grade.”
Reading on grade level by third grade is an early indicator for future success such as high school graduation and entering the workforce. Ready Ready’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading includes three components.
· The Basics Guilford: The Basics is a messaging tool to promote early language and literacy development. Ready Ready staff members have trained more than 600 adults focused on early literacy using the Basics Guilford.
· Active Reading: Active Reading is a framework to build language and literacy skills with toddlers, preschoolers, and beyond. Since the inception of Active Reading, Ready Ready has trained more than 1,000 adults in Guilford County.
· Book distribution: Ready Ready has partnered with organizations like BackPack Beginnings to deliver more than 7,000 books to young children in Guilford County.
The Lincoln Financial Foundation has a focus on human services, education, and financial wellness. “Our education focus area supports organizations that help students reach their learning potential and prepare them for critical transitions in their education,” said Nancy Rogers, senior vice president of corporate responsibility, and president of the Lincoln Financial Foundation. “We fund programs that strengthen critical learning skills, improve academic performance, and prepare students for college and careers.”
Ready Ready’s mission is to create a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families. It is a long-term effort aimed at population-level change. The first phase has focused on infants and toddlers to ensure all Guilford County families receive the support and resources they need for social-emotional, physical, language/communication, cognitive, and learning development. The second phase, which launches this year, focuses on children ages three to five.
By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing and Communications
Parent leaders held a Town Hall meeting on April 24 to ask families how our community could offer more support. The Town Hall was facilitated by Guilford Parent Leader Network members who have graduated from Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) Phase II training. They began the process with a survey that ran from December 2021 through March 2022, asking members of the community about their needs as parents.
“The Town Hall meeting was amazing,” said Katina Allen, one of the facilitators. “We heard people voice their opinions, got some great points across, and received great feedback.”
During the virtual Town Hall, the 20 participants met together via Zoom and discussed the survey results. “After talking about the community findings, they decided to focus on affordable housing, affordable child care, and living wages and benefits,” said Yuri Alston, family engagement coordinator at Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready). “Breakout rooms on each topic allowed the attendees to talk about their experiences, brainstorm solutions, and determine next steps.”
One item that grabbed a lot of interest was affordable child care, especially exploring the idea of a pop-up child care center for working parents in a community. “I have an eight-month-old and a middle schooler, and finding high-quality child care that working parents can afford for infant care and after-school care is challenging,” Allen said. “If we had a location for children in our community for teacher workdays or snow days, that would allow parents who have to be at work to know their children are in a safe place.”
By the end of the event, the group decided to explore each topic more completely for the next month and report back on the findings, such as regulations around child care, advocacy for living wages, and ways to connect around affordable housing.
The Guilford County Partnership for Children (GCPC) mission is to ensure that all Guilford County children ages birth to five are emotionally, intellectually, and physically ready for success in school.
Using public dollars and private donations, GCPC creates new programs and collaborates with existing ones to measurably improve the lives of children while strengthening families. The organization also administers one of the largest NC Pre-K programs in North Carolina, serving more than 2,000 preschoolers every school year.
With Smart Start expansion funding, GCPC is now able to fund the Child Care WAGE$ program in Guilford County. WAGE$ provides education-based salary supplements to child care educators working with children ages birth to five.
“We are very excited to bring WAGE$ back to Guilford County,” said Ann Vandervliet Stratton, GCPC executive director. “We’re hearing there’s a 50 percent turnover rate in the county’s early education sector due to low wages and benefits. There’s enough pandemic-related hardship for working parents. We need to support stable, accessible, high-quality child care for our families, children, and the local economy.”
It’s a natural connection. GCPC is also involved in early childhood training, workshops, and other resources for early childhood educators. The Child Care WAGE$ program is designed to increase retention, education, and compensation.
According to the program, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University reports that “substantial investments in training, recruiting, compensating, and retaining a high-quality workforce must be a top priority for society.” WAGE$ helps attract educated teachers to the field in the first place who might not otherwise choose it due to typically low salaries and benefits. The additional compensation helps retain those educated teachers, and the program encourages (even mandates) additional education.
“WAGE$ produces measurable results,” Stratton said. “N.C. communities that invest in WAGE$ typically see a 25 percent reduction in the turnover rate.”
To be eligible for WAGE$, educators must work in a licensed child care program, earn less than $17 per hour, work at least six months in the same child care program, and meet certain educational criteria.
Lower turnover rates are important for children in early child care settings. The bond children create with their teachers sets the groundwork for positive learning experiences. When a program has teacher turnover, it is difficult for the center owner and the young children they serve.
Achieving higher levels of education can increase the supplement amount an educator can receive. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Program offers scholarships to child care professionals who want to earn course credits toward certification or a degree. GCPC is sharing ways early childhood educators can get help with the training and education to increase the supplement they will receive through the program.
WAGE$ is a funding collaboration between GCPC (Smart Start) and the Division of Child Development and Early Education. It is administered by the Child Care Services Association.
We have been celebrating Earth Day on April 22 since 1970, when a U.S. senator from Wisconsin organized a national demonstration to focus awareness on our environment. Since the 1990s, Earth Day has been celebrated by more than 140 countries worldwide.
Other data points, including declining kindergarten-entry literacy skills, racial disparities in infant mortality, and low pay for early childhood teachers, were held out at the event as unacceptable realities for young children and families.
Discussion also included common points on the importance of the earliest years: for children’s brain development, school success, families’ well-being and workforce participation, and the state’s economic growth.
‘A connected, innovative system of care’ in Guilford
“Yes, we want to invest in job training and workforce development … we want to invest in schooling and preschool programs, but the more we can invest in the early years — in supporting women, children, and families prenatally up to age 3, and then shifting that focus to ages 3 to 8 — it’s going to yield a higher return,” said Charrise Hart, the CEO of Ready for School, Ready for Life, a Guilford County nonprofit aiming to create a network of high-quality services for all young children and their families.
These challenges and opportunities motivated the launch of that group back in 2014, when community leaders acknowledged that change was needed. The nonprofit serves as a backbone organization for the Get Ready Guilford Initiative. The initiative’s aim is population-level progress, focused on two main outcomes: literacy development and social-emotional competence. The group breaks its work into two phases: prenatal to 3, and 3 to 8.
“We may not have the finance backing … that we see in Charlotte,” Hart said. “We may not have the RTP approach that we see in Raleigh (and) Durham. But we’re a strong community, and we do value our earliest and youngest learners, and so that’s why we are investing in them.”
With substantial philanthropic investments, including tens of millions from Blue Meridian and the Duke Endowment, the group plans to reach its vision over the next decade — not by creating another program, but by connecting the dots for families with young children. The goal, as the group’s website says, is “to build a connected, innovative system of care.”
Edward Kitchen, board co-chair of the nonprofit, shared the work’s origin story Wednesday, starting with experiences he had as city manager of Greensboro. Children were living in poor housing conditions, unable to reach services without transportation, and following their older siblings’ involvement in the juvenile court system.
When it came to education, Kitchen said, he saw persistent challenges. He was involved with a philanthropic effort to raise math scores in local high-needs high schools that didn’t make much of a difference.
“When we asked the provost of UNC-Greensboro, who was the evaluator of the effort, ‘Why is this?’ his response was almost immediate. He said, ‘You started way too late. You’ve got to start early.'”
The group’s other priorities include creating a navigation system for parents to be connected with all types of resources, promoting a culture of quality and improvement, conducting rigorous evaluation, and building public will.
A recent win: The group has partnered 16 OB-GYN offices so that families will be assigned a guide through the prenatal period and after birth to connect them with whatever services they need.
Defining and measuring the initiative’s impact, or its “it,” is a challenge, said Kenneth Dodge, a Sanford professor and the founding and past director of the Center for Child and Family Policy, as well as the founder of Family Connects International.
“This is so big and so broad, in my mind the ‘it’ is a new idea — it is universal primary care for families,” Dodge said. The project has two main parts, he said: “reaching every family and understanding what they need, and providing resources to address those needs.”
“This vision is as breathtaking and groundbreaking as public school universally was 200 years ago for children age 7 to 16, but for children 0 to 8,” Dodge said. “Think about it in that kind of magnitude.”
‘Fundamental to our economic sustainability and growth’
In Guilford County and across the state, leaders highlighted the importance of engaging the business community to become advocates and funders in expanding opportunities for children and families.
Business leaders were at the table in Guilford’s initiative from the beginning, said Ryan Blackledge, director of government affairs at Cone Health and chair of Ready for School, Ready for Life’s legislative action subcommittee.
“That’s really where this started, and it comes from a standpoint of recognizing that everything that we do has an impact on other parts of our lives,” Blackledge said. “If all we’re focusing on is early childhood education and not also focusing on being ready for school and then readiness for high school and readiness for work, and then when you’re working, you need a place for your kids to go, and really understanding how all of this allows a community o be successful together — that’s what I think really contributed to the buy-in with the business community.”
Clemmons echoed a need for broadening the voices advocating for early childhood change, including business leaders and policymakers on both sides of the aisle.
“I think it is very important that we start talking about early childhood as fundamental to our economic sustainability and growth,” she said. “We know the moral imperative of providing for our children, we know the stories, but all of us talking to each other about those things is not getting us where we need to be.”
Clemmons asked the crowd: “If you knew what you know now… would we start the public education system at 5? If we knew all the things we now know, would we start a public good of building who we’re going to be as a state at 5? Or would we be doing something different?”
This article first appeared on EducationNC and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.
Local barbers and stylists trained as community health ambassadors to hold maternal health conversations and host educational opportunities for moms-to-be
GREENSBORO, NC, April 12, 2022 — The American Heart Association, Every Baby Guilford, March of Dimes, and Ready for School Ready for Life are proud to be co-recipients of a one-year $67,000 grant from the Cemala Foundation focused on cardiovascular health and maternal health to reduce infant mortality in Guilford County. In response to the high rates of infant mortality in Guilford County, Trusted Spaces, Healthy Babies is a collaboration between these four organizations to form an innovative approach that aims to address the drivers of infant mortality while empowering mothers of Color in trusted community spaces. Programs such as Trusted Spaces, Healthy Babies support mothers and contribute to raising healthy, smart babies.
“Black women face a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, having a stroke, and complications during or immediately after pregnancy. In fact, Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. Together, Trusted Spaces, Healthy Babies can help change these statistics,” said Kent Wallace-Meggs, Executive Director for the American Heart Association in the Triad.
Local barbers and stylists recently attended a maternal health training for their participation in the Trusted Spaces, Healthy Babies initiative. The four organizations presented information during this peer-to-peer educational training. A community kick-off event will be announced later this Spring.
In 2019, the American Heart Association began Trusted Spaces, working with beauty salons and barbershops across the Triad to focus on hypertension and health conversations with the Hair, Heart & Health initiative.
Now, Trusted Spaces, Healthy Babies will be implemented across Guilford County in up to 13 barbershops and beauty salons. The initiative includes an outreach campaign with health messages for moms-to-be delivered through the trusted voices of barbers and stylists. Health and parenting resources will be introduced to the participating salons and barbershops for mothers to access, including blood pressure monitors, scales, book nooks, and more.
The American Heart Association will be managing the Trusted Spaces, Healthy Babies initiative with the salons and barbershops and focusing on hypertension and nutrition. The March of Dimes will provide curricula and training support on preconception health tips and links to resources. Ready for School Ready for Life will provide children’s books for shops to share with clients and information about the Basics Guilford to promote healthy parent-child interaction at home. Every Baby Guilford will lead the communications campaign and focus on evaluation, leadership, and coordination support for the Trusted Spaces Healthy Babies initiative. A community health worker will be hired to coordinate and provide assistance for the project based on public health awareness and project implementation.
Salons and barbershops will host events throughout the program with a focus on pre-conception, prenatal and postnatal health, and early childhood development. Topics at these events will also include healthy cooking, health screenings, accessing government benefits, such as food and nutrition services, and information on Basics Guilford.
According to the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services’ 2020 Maternal and Child Health Data Brief, Guilford County was one of the top five worst of 100 counties in North Carolina in infant mortality. While Guilford County experienced an 18% decrease in the overall infant mortality rate in 2020, is remains one of the highest in North Carolina. Maternal and infant health outcomes are key indicators for gauging the overall health and wellbeing of a community.
In Guilford County, Black infant mortality is impacted at higher levels than Hispanic and white infants in four of the five categories, including infant mortality rate, preterm births, low birth weight, and very low birth weight. For late or no prenatal care, Black infants were impacted by a 15% increase over white infants.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal death in the U.S., or more simply put, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of new moms. It can threaten women’s heart health during pregnancy and later in life, making it important that women understand how to care for themselves and their babies. Black women face a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, having a stroke, and complications during or immediately after pregnancy. Pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are rising at an alarming rate — and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause. According to the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services 2019 Leading Causes of Death Data Brief, Diseases of the Heart is the second leading cause of death, accounting for 18% or all deaths in Guilford County, and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health, and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
About Every Baby Guilford
Every Baby Guilford’s mission is to ignite and mobilize Guilford County through partnerships and unified strategies to eliminate racial disparities and prevent infant deaths.
About March of Dimes
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies.
About Ready for School, Ready for Life
Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to create a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families. Learn more at www.GetReadyGuilford.org.
(March 17, 2022 — GREENSBORO, N.C.) Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready), is seeking responses from local partners to lead the initial implementation of community-wide strategies designed to improve outcomes for children ages three to five in Guilford County.
A Design Team of diverse community stakeholders from across Guilford County worked for six months to develop 10 strategies designed to improve services for these children and their families. Three strategies will be piloted in Guilford County this year:
To increase alignment between early care and education programs and the school system, implement coordination activities, including offering joint professional development between child care center staff and kindergarten teachers and offering transition supports to families (e.g., coaching, virtual school tours, etc.).
To improve children’s early literacy skills, implement a county-wide active reading effort. We anticipate selecting evidence-based interventions to implement across settings (public libraries, home-based care, child care centers, etc.) that will encourage adults to read frequently with children, focusing on families reading with children more at home.
To improve adults’ and children’s social-emotional development, implement and expand evidence-based interventions targeting children ages 3-5. We anticipate training adults serving children in various settings, like educational and medical settings, so that they are better equipped to build children’s skills and competencies.
Ready Ready anticipates partners will respond to lead implementation of one of the three strategies.
Interested organizations may view the RFP Webinar which provides an overview of Ready Ready’s current and proposed work. Learn more about the three strategies selected for initial implementation by viewing a strategy-specific webinar linked below.
Say Yes Guilford is an educational nonprofit committed to providing access to support services and scholarships designed to prepare Guilford County Schools’ students for success in college, career, and life.
“Our whole mission is centered around giving students access to support services and scholarships,” said President and CEO Wendy Poteat. “We’re trying to make sure Guilford County students are ready for college, a career, or life – whether they choose a four-year degree, a two-year degree, or a certificate program.”
Poteat joined Say Yes in 2019, at the time when it became a local nonprofit. During her time at the organization, she deepened its reach with Guilford County Schools to offer tutoring and other supports to promote success starting in elementary school.
“While Ready for School, Ready for Life focuses on prenatal to age eight and setting kids up for success, I see our work being part of that continuum,” Poteat said. “Say Yes Guilford takes up at that transition point in third grade to help make sure they are proficient in reading and supported through middle and high school. It’s a continuum of care.”
When the pandemic hit, a new opportunity to help students arose. Say Yes Guilford began offering virtual tutoring to alleviate learning loss to students now learning remotely.
“We offer a virtual tutoring prep platform from kindergarten to eighth grade with volunteer tutors. We thought we might offer it for one semester, but as the pandemic lingered, we had families asking us to keep it going,” Poteat said. “Ready Ready and The Duke Endowment helped us with funding, so we can continue to offer this support to students.”
Poteat says close partnerships with Guilford County Schools and community organizations help Say Yes offer support to GCS’ 70,000 students. “While we may be best known for providing last-dollar scholarships, more of our work is focused on listening and asking what families in Guilford County Schools really need. That’s how we can identify gaps and offer services that families say they want.”
Say Yes is using that information to develop its new strategies. One Poteat is particularly excited about is bringing career technical education (CTE) exposure to students starting in middle school. “We want sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to know more about the career academies and the amazing CTE opportunities available so they can plan better for their high school registration in eighth grade.”
When it comes to high school, Poteat says her staff is focused on equipping students to follow their best path and eliminating finance as a barrier. Say Yes offers a variety of coaching for students, such as one on one consultations that explore career or college options, SAT/ACT prep classes, individual scholarship counseling, or financial aid workshops, to name a few.
In addition to her work at Say Yes Guilford, Poteat has served on Ready Ready’s Ages 3-5 Active Reading strategy team. “It’s a tenet of servant leadership when you think about helping the community or helping people. That’s what I love about Ready Ready and being involved with this strategy team,” she said. “There are so many voices in the room and communities being heard. We must work through these ideas to engage active reading through different experiences and connections.”