In April of 2021, the Lawrence Public Schools USD 497 Board of Education made the difficult decision to close Kennedy Elementary to future K-5students, but they also said “Yes!” to repurposing the building as an early childhood community center. This opportunity could not come at a more promising time as there is unprecedented support at all levels of government and in public/private sectors for a reimagining of the systems that impact families with young children. A workgroup of Douglas County early childhood community stakeholders spent the summer and fall of 2021 gathering input, researching evidence-based models and developing timelines for implementation. The result is an innovative model that includes three impact areas. The first impact area is a robust, collaborative Family Resource Center to help meet the basic needs of families with young children. The second is a Provider Academy to recruit, retain and support early childhood care and education professionals. Finally, the early childhood community center will utilize innovative strategies, such as an on-site business incubator, to increase the number of accessible, affordable and available high-quality child care slots in Douglas County. Click here to learn more about this exciting project!
In 2019, the Community Children's Center received a Kansas Health Foundation Impact Grant to develop trauma awareness training for Douglas County and the surrounding area. We partnered with Marcia Weseman, Ed.D. to develop "Trauma Aware Today" with the intention that this one-day course would begin the trauma informed journey for organizations and leaders in our community. We quickly realized awareness was not enough. We needed to be able to move participants beyond awareness through the other stages of the continuum as identified by the Missouri Model: A Developmental Framework to Become Trauma Informed.
Late 2020, CCC received an All In For Kansas Kids Quality Subgrant to develop the remaining three stages of the series. The full series will be available late 2022.
The series will discuss prevalence of trauma and how trauma might impact their clientele, staff and community. Participants will review the effects of trauma on brain architecture and the consequences seen in behavior; generational trauma; physical and mental health; and learning. The significance of adult and/or leaders’ management of their own emotions and energy levels on other’s success will also be emphasized. Discussion topics include practice and policy implications when principles of trauma informed organizations are part of the culture including: safety; transparency and trustworthiness; collaboration; peer support; voice, choice, and empowerment; and cultural, historical and gender issues.
Late 2020, CCC received a second All In For Kansas Kids Quality Subgrant to create an online hub for all things early childhood in Douglas County, Kansas. This comprehensive resource will serve as a "one-stop shop" for families, caregivers and early childhood professionals who need information, education and/or connection to better support and care for children from birth to 5 years of age. Key partners in this effort cross public and private sectors to “connect the dots" by creating logical pathways and seamless online navigation to supports for Douglas County families with young children. The hub is slated to go live in the first half of 2022. To get the latest updates on the go live date, visit the TYKES Douglas County landing page.
Lawrence Kindergarten Transition Team
In 2020, a group of early childhood stakeholders in Lawrence came together to form the Lawrence Kindergarten Transition Team to support children and families as they make the transition from an early childhood education environment to the Lawrence, Kansas public school system. In 2021, this collaborative effort received an All In For Kansas Kids Quality Subgrant to support these efforts. CCC serves as the fiscal agent for this grant and houses the community's grant funded Kindergarten Ambassador. The Kindergarten Ambassador spends her time making connections with families who are readying for the transition and coordinating the sharing of information from both the early childhood professionals and kindergarten teachers. Visit the Ready. Set. Kindergarten page for more information.
Our Tomorrows Story Bank
The Our Tomorrows Statewide Story Bank provides a real-time look at how families are doing, so state and local leaders know what works and what doesn’t for families. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, partners – all of us have families, and all of us have something important to share about our lives and interactions. We know there’s much to be learned from all kinds of stories, with all kinds of outcomes. The stories we hear from Kansans are already shaping policy and programming decisions in communities across our state—and we know our collective voices will continue to impact change at all levels. Through OUR TOMORROWS, Kansans have the opportunity to share and reflect by sharing unique and important perspectives. Using a story-based research tool called SenseMaker™, we will examine the patterns and stories in-depth, allowing us to gain new understandings about what families need to thrive. Your contribution to the story collection will make a difference.
Want to share a story? Click on the Our Tomorrows rocket ship to get started!