As Minnesota school districts near the first quarter mark of the 2015-16 school year, early childhood coalitions throughout the region are offering students, parents, early elementary teachers, and childcare providers great opportunities in partnership with Southwest Initiative Foundation, says SWIF Early Childhood Specialist Tari Niemeyer. “We’re being very forward thinking about the future economic development of our region by investing in our younger generation,” she said.
Here are just a few of the recent events held in or planned for southwest Minnesota:
- An Early Childhood Appreciation event in Litchfield on Thurs., Oct. 22 was open to anyone working in the Early Childhood field. The meeting gave attendees the chance to network and obtain resources related to kids’ early years.
- On Fri., Oct. 23 in Willmar, the 2011 Minnesota Educator of the Year, Katy Smith, spoke about childhood and kids’ needs at a free public community conversation at the Redeemer Lutheran Church. There was a 5:30 supper as part of the 6 p.m. speaking event, sponsored by the United Way, Willmar Early Childhood Initiative, Willmar Community Education and Recreation, and SWIF. The following day there was a special training for childcare providers.
- A regional listening session about ensuring high-quality early education from birth to age 8, including school-readiness, will be held in Willmar on Fri., Nov. 6 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Willmar Public Library. The discussion will be documented and shared with the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services for policy and programming considerations.
- For the second time, “The Incredible Years” parenting program is taking place in Madison. These eight, two-hour-long sessions are designed to strengthen parenting skills and support child development and are offered by Countryside Public Health. Already 32 adults and kids between the ages of 1 and 3 are participating in the sessions.
- Willmar recently hosted its 10th Annual Family Night at the Willmar Fire Station. The family event has evolved over the years to include a reading by firefighters, resource tables, a Life Link helicopter, bouncy house, and more. More than 700 people attend. A similar event was also recently held at Mountain Lake’s fire station, drawing more than 250 people.
To see how you can get involved in one of southwest Minnesota’s local early childhood coalitions, contact Tari at (320) 587-4848 or visit our website for the name of and contact information for the childhood coalition in your community.