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Forums will focus on early childhood

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Two community forums on Wednesday, March 20, will serve as the public launch an Early Childhood Coalition for Fayette County. The organizer hopes to for attendance from parents, professionals involved with early childhood and day care and other service providers.

“It will be open to the community. I’d love to have parents, a diverse representation from the community, businesses, the chamber ... the more people that hear this information, the more it will get out,” Carrie Bale, Fayette County early learning coordinator, said.

Identical programs will start at noon and at 5:30 p.m. in the hope that interested people can attend one of the meetings. Both will be at Calvary Baptist Church, 309 W. 24th St.

After showing a documentary entitled “No Small Matter,” Bale will ask those attending to help set out some priorities. She will lead the group in considering the current status of childhood health in the county, looking at data for childhood maltreatment and infant mortality as well as options for high quality child care.

“Prenatal care is a big concern,” she said. Citing the recent closure of ob-gyn operations at the local hospital, she said some expectant mothers may have difficulty finding transportation to the nearest prenatal care locations.

“The infant mortality rate is the number one predictor of a community’s health in 30 years,” she said. “It is definitely something that can be improved.”

She will ask those attending to discuss their view of local problems and priorities for improvement. Early childhood is all about not repeating harmful cycles, to put supports in place that will improve life for young people.

“What are some strategies we can use to be responsive to the wants and needs in Fayette County?” Bale said. 

She believes a wide spectrum of local people should become involved with this issue. “You don’t have to have young children,” she said. “We have to break that mindset.”

“How can we connect this to other economic development?” she said. “I look at it as, if you don’t add this piece, then in 10 to 15 years, where’s our next workforce?”

She will ask the groups at each forum to form four or five task forces to address specific concerns. 

Attendance at the forum is at no charge, she said. Bale, the president and CEO of Early Learning Services, is a consultant working with other Indiana counties on similar issues. She has already met with teachers and staff in the Fayette County schools.

The early childhood coalition is supported by the Fayette Community Foundation.


Fayette County Early Childhood Coalition

Identical forums at noon and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at Calvary Baptist Church, 309 W. 24th St., to explore tasks needed to improve early childhood in Fayette County. No cost to attend.

The documentary, No Small Matter, will be shown, followed by exploration of current conditions and establishment of task forces to develop strategies.

For information, visit Fayette County Early Learning Coalition on Facebook.