New Strategic Plan for Alaska’s Early Childhood System Nears Completion
The draft strategic plan for Alaska’s early childhood system is currently being reviewed by more than 200 educators, parents, health care providers, caregivers, social service agencies, school board members, program administrators, funders and other stakeholders around the state. In development since October, “Early Childhood Alaska: A Strategic Direction for 2020-2025” will provide goals, strategies and actions to strengthen and improve the state’s complex, fragmented network of programs and services that make up the early childhood system. It is on track to be completed in June.
The plan can be a guide for anyone in the state with young children from prenatal to age eight, and those who work with or provide services to those children and their families. With findings from a statewide needs assessment completed in December, the draft plan was created with the ideas, concerns and involvement of over 500 Alaskans and hundreds of hours of work by the Early Childhood Joint Task Force and its leadership team assisted by contractor Denali Daniels + Associates.
In-person meetings took place with families and those who work for and with young children in Kodiak, Bethel and Kotzebue; with AASB members during two annual gatherings; with statewide attendees at the Anchorage Association for the Education of Young Children conference; with members of the Kindergarten Ready Network in Anchorage; and with the Alaska Head Start Association.
Two statewide video conferences gathered input from tribal administrators of early childhood programs. When Covid-19 cut short plans for planned in-person community meetings, a regional video and phone conference with a large number of Interior villages was organized by Tanana Chiefs Conference and another took place with residents of communities on Prince of Wales Island who work in the early childhood system. Families in Anchorage participated in a video conference, families in Minto offered their ideas via video conference and phone, and 300 Alaskans responded to an online survey in March.
Members of the Alaska Early Childhood Coordinating Council joined with the Early Childhood Joint Task Force in two video conference work sessions in late March and early April to help move the plan to the draft version currently being reviewed.
“Early Childhood Alaska: A Strategic Direction for 2020-2025” and the needs assessment on which it was based were funded by the federal Preschool Development Grant awarded to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and coordinated by AASB.
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