Recent Events

2 Day Workshop on Social Justice & Equity!

The Northeast Early Childhood Council (NECC) recently presented a two-day interactive workshop on Social Justice and Equity for area residents.  The workshop was facilitated by the National Conference for Community and Justice.  The funding for the Social Justice and Equity workshop was awarded to the NECC by a grant from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund.

The workshop was designed to advance equity in education by promoting a greater awareness and understanding of the disparities resulting from structural racism, the effects of poverty and the intersection of the two.   The sessions were made up of a diverse body of people, including local parents, local public school employees, community agencies, and many others who believed in the value of exploring the topic of social justice.  In total, 47 people completed the training.

Attendees learned how race, class, abilities/disabilities and other social identities affect people’s lives, communities and workplaces.  Attendees also learned to examine how one is individually and collectively impacted by bias, discrimination, privilege and economic diversity.   Finally, attendees gained a deeper commitment to caring and taking action against all forms of oppression and learned new skills to interrupt forms of bias and discrimination.

It was clear from the responses that those who completed the training found it extremely beneficial.  For instance, Mr. Jose-Michael Gonzalez, M.S., a clinician from UCFS Healthcare, said “This was a wonderful, reflective, and needed opportunity, which we do not get to involve ourselves with on a daily basis. This work takes lots of reflection and action”.

Amy Parcinski from the Plainfield Family Resource Center “The training acted as a catalyst for me to learn more and because of it I am now reading, ‘You Can’t Teach What You don’t Know,’ along with a couple of other recommended books. I’ve also begun to google the answers to questions like, ‘What does an immigrant have to do to become a citizen?’  I’m beginning to see a world that, sadly, was invisible to me before.”

People Empowering People (PEP) – Graduates Class of 12 for 2017!

12 individuals who were residents of Killingly, Putnam, Plainfield, Brooklyn, Willington, Canterbury, Voluntown and Thompson successfully completed graduation on June 7th, 2017

The group was able to complete a variety of personal projects/goals such as:

-Starting the process to become a foster parent to help families who’s parents are facing deportation.

-Attending training in Circle of Security to be able to facilitate this in her community

-Developing a presentation for first responders on Autism and how to support these individuals in their care and solicited donations for sensory items to be used with autistic children during emergency situations (like fidget spinners, stress balls, etc). She will be making presentations to local ambulance companies and first responders.

-Parent advocacy around a medical grant available to assist families for equipment not covered by insurance.

The group was able to complete a group project:

1) Collection of outdoor play items & hygiene donations for women and children living in transitional housing situations through United Services Domestic Violence Shelter.   This included a kids outdoor picnic table, chairs, outside toys, books and 1 bin of hygiene items.

2) The group also collected hygiene / food items for TEEG. This included over 5 large totes of hygiene items and bag of food donations.

Northeast Early Childhood Council Awarded Two Valuable Grants:

The NECC has been awarded two grants to fund parent trainings and build strong and inclusive communities.

Killingly, Plainfield, Putnam, Sterling, & Thompson – The Northeast Early Childhood Council (NECC) has been awarded two grants to advance the wellbeing of children & families in Killingly, Plainfield, Putnam, Sterling & Thompson. The first grant was awarded in collaboration with the Parent Trust Fund Grant partners, the State Education Resource Center (SERC) and Resource Center (CT PIRC). The funding allows the NECC to bring parent leadership trainings to 13 parents in Northeast CT using the People Empowering People (PEP) model. The UConn People Empowering People Program is an innovative personal and family development program with a strong community focus. The program is designed to build on the unique strengths and life experiences of the participants and emphasizes the connection between individual and community action. The NECC has been a recipient of this grant in the past and successful participants have moved on to numerous endeavors to build stronger communities.

In addition, the NECC was also awarded the Equity Learning Partnership grant, which is funded by the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund. The grant’s mission is to achieve equity in education by working with those affected by and inspiring all to end racism and poverty. The NECC reflects and supports the mission of the Memorial Fund to end racism and poverty so that all families and children in our towns have the opportunities, resources and support needed to thrive. The two-day Social Justice & Equity workshop will train up to 60 people in NE CT from parents, community members, school staff and local agency personal.  One goal of the training is to gain perspective on how community members are impacted by racism, classism and social injustice and to increase individual’s knowledge on how to effectively talk about these issues. Another goal is to build stronger and more inclusive communities and workplaces. This training will continue to facilitate conversations on social justice issues. Participants will take back what they learned and continue to educate, advocate and facilitate dialogue concerning all forms of oppression, privilege and equity.

Regional Professional Development:

Over ninety preschool and kindergarten public school staff from the five communities  of the Northeast Early Childhood Council came together on November 8th for a day of professional learning.  Entitled, “Purposeful Play and Executive Functions,” participants learned about the critical importance of self regulation to a child’s learning and classroom strategies to support it.  Thank you to EA Aschenbrenner from Eastconn for leading the learning and to the Killingly Public Schools for hosting this important event.

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NECC’s Community Children’s Champion Awards:  

These awards are presented to an individual, organization or business member, in recognition of their leadership and commitment to young children in these communities. The recipients significantly contributed to accomplishing the mission of the NECC.

Renee Toper, Plainfield CT – Mom to Brooke, Logan and Abbey and wife to Eric:
The NECC acknowledges Mrs. Toper’s outstanding and tireless efforts to build the Wonderland at Lions Park playground in Plainfield, CT and congratulate her in raising over $15,000.00 to date.  In addition, she has been instrumental in bringing together multiple community partners to begin work on the new playscape.  She was also a valuable partner in the success of the work by the NECC to bring developmental screenings to children in Plainfield and surrounding towns through the organization of the Wonderland Fall Festival.

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Lions District 23C – KidSight Program & Lions Clubs: 
The NECC thanks Nancy Tucker (Lions District 23C Governor), John & Linda Bradshaw (Chairs for the District 23C KidSight USA), Tom Kohl (President Killingly Quiet Corner Club/Vision Screening Coordinator), Kent Lewis & Robert Ericsson (Plainfield Lions) & Romeo Blackmar (Putnam Lions Club) for their outstanding and tireless efforts to screen children across our communities for vision problems.

Through the KidSight screenings at the NECC Help Me Grow events and the Lions’ Club work to screen hundreds of students across our region by working with area schools, 2,469 kids have been screened and 257 have been referred to eye doctors. In addition, their work as a key partner on our vision task force is allowing us to accomplish our strategy of increasing comprehensive vision screenings in children birth – eight in our communities.

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School Districts:
The work of the NECC would not happen if we did not have invested partners and stakeholders at our table working together to achieve our mission. We honor the commitment of our school districts for the important role they have played over the past 15 years in making sure that we have been supported in this work.  One of the things that has made our collaborative special is that we are Regional and the collaboration of our districts in accomplishing our goals & strategies has been wonderful. On behalf of the NECC, thank you for your past and continued support in this work.

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Christine Randall:
We generously thank Rep. Christine Randall, who has been instrumental in our work for many years. Rep. Randall is an example of why the work of the LECC is so important. Her journey as a parent volunteer, community coordinator, and regional director all led her to her role as State Representative. On behalf the NECC, we would like to formally celebrate all that you have done for the NECC and say Thank You.

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NECC Thanks Legislators:

At opening day of the Connecticut General Assembly‘s 2016 Legislative Session, the Regional Director of NECC, Kristine Cicchetti, was introduced by State Representative Christine Randall to the House of Representatives. The event was hosted by CT Parent Power: Stand United Thanks for Giving Campaign to publicly thank our State Legislators who have supported the work of early childhood councils. Mrs. Cicchetti was given the opportunity to discuss the many great accomplishments of the NECC, in addition to the positive impact the council continues to have in ensuring our area children are healthy, safe, & successful learners. In addition, the “Keys of Kindness” were presented to State Rep. Randall and State Rep. Rovero during the opening day of the 2016 Legislative Session. The NECC thanks Representatives Randall and Rovero for your continued support of our local early childhood council.

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 Office of Early Childhood Public Forums:

During the Winter of 2016, NECC in collaboration with Goodyear Early Childhood Center, hosted the Office of Early Childhood  public forums in an effort to collect public feedback on the goals and objectives of the OEC’s strategic plan. The OEC has created a 4-year strategic plan to guide its work where by all of Connecticut’s young children are safe, healthy, learning & thriving.

The event was highly successful, with many local parents and community members attending and providing valuable insights and comments to the OEC. For community members who were unable to attend, the OEC offers an online feedback tool.

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Vision Screenings Brought to Local School Children:

During the Fall of 2015 school period, NECC in collaboration with Lions Clubs International, Killingly Public Schools and Sterling Public Schools screened over 1,400 school children for vision problems. The CT Lions KidSight Program is a free service funded by the CT Lions Eye Research Foundation and staffed by volunteers. Using the latest technology (called a photo screener) the screening device detects risk factors for amblyopia, such as strabismus (eyes that cross or wander out), refractive errors and unequal vision between the two eyes, and potentially even more serious issues such as cataracts and eye cancer. With this collaboration, the vision screening identified 92 more students who would not have been identified as having vision problems using traditional methods. Identifying and correcting vision problems early is so important to school age children since 80% of how children learn is through vision and 1 in 10 children has a vision problem significant enough to affect learning. The NECC is grateful to the dedication of the CT Lions volunteers as well as the Killingly & Sterling Public Schools for bringing this valuable service to local children. The NECC continues to look at how we can bring more screenings to children in our communities as we work towards our mission that all children, birth through age eight, in Killingly, Plainfield, Putnam & Sterling are healthy, safe & successful learners. If you would like more information on our Vision Task Force, please contact our Regional Director.

 

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Click here to see a powerful video on the impact of early screening for children.

Family Fall Festival & Resource Fair:

In May 2014 and October 2015, NECC supported by Help Me Grow and in collaboration with Plainfield, Putnam, and Killingly Family Resource Centers, Day Kimball Healthcare, Generations Family Health Center & EASTCONN, presented a fun family event for local residents to get children signed up for developmental screenings. The four events, held in Killingly, Plainfield, Putnam and Sterling, brought out hundreds of local families and over 175 children were singed up to help parents with early detection for developmental delays.

“The mission of Help Me Grow is to identity children at-risk for developmental delays and behavioral issues, so they can be connected to resources in their community for help and support,” explained Karen Foley-Schain, Division Director for OEC’s Family Support Services Division, which oversees the Help Me Grow Program. To read more, see Help Me Grow.

If you live in the Town’s of Killingly, Plainfield, Putnam or Sterling and would like to have your child(ren) screened, please contact your local Family Resource Center:
Killingly: Goodyear Family Resource Center 860-564-6700
Putnam:  Putnam Family Resource Center 860-963-6940
Plainfield/Sterling:  Plainfield Family Resource Center 860-564-6457 
Thank you to all our local agency partners for participating in this event and helping families get connected to local services:
Northeast District Department of Health, Child First, Northeast Opportunities for Wellness, Generations, Day Kimball, Putnam Family Resource Center, Plainfield Family Resource Center, EASTCONN, Lions Club, Mobile Food Pantry, UCONN Agricultural Program

 

Children’s Champion Award:

In 2015, the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, honored Sen. Mae Flexer and Rep. Christine Randall with the Children’s Champion Award. This annual award recognizes legislators who have been instrumental in creating new laws that improve the well-being of Connecticut’s  children. To learn more, see Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.

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