The Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund (SOS) put together a GREAT program last night for their Discovering Our Community Event 2012. The focus of the program was early childhood education and the audience got the opportunity to hear from a distinguished panel of experts in this subject area.
The speakers included:
- Joy Rouse– Director Early Education Ferguson Florissant School District; Former Deputy Director Parents as Teachers National Center
- Elizabeth George– Vice President, Deaconess Foundation; Co-Chair Regional Early Childhood Council
- Doug Rasmussen– Senior Vice President Business Development St. Louis Economic Development Council; Co-Chair Regional Early Childhood Council
- Jonathan Freiden– CEO Constructive Playthings; Founder Alliance for Childhood Education (ACE)
These speakers shared information about the history of early childhood education in Missouri, evidence of how early childhood education results in better test scores later in life, statistics about how investments in early childhood education are a long term investment in the local workforce, and how local CEO’s can advocate for early childhood education funding with our state legislators.
- Did you know that the first kindergarten in the country was founded in Missouri yet even to this day kindergarten is not required in Missouri?
- Did you know that some parents will forgo a pay increase at work just to insure they don’t cross the “income cliff” and risk losing their access to free early childhood education?
- Did you know that Missouri ranks close to last in terms of childcare subsidies and eligibility?
The panel shared a ton of great information and statistics with the audience and their presentations were only bolstered by the strong comments and questions from the audience. Audience members shared information about how strong early childhood education programs changed their lives and the lives of their kids.
The Parents as Teachers program got a lot of time on the agenda at the program. For those of you who don’t know, Parents as Teachers was founded in Missouri and has now spread to all 50 states and internationally. Joy described it as “Missouri’s gift to the world”.
Elizabeth and Doug shared information about the Regional Early Childhood Council and it’s goal of creating a coordinated early childhood system in Missouri. We look forward to seeing the strategic plan that will be released by that group in the coming months.
The out of town speaker, Jonathan Freiden, brought a unique perspective to the table. He is the founder and CEO of the Alliance for Childhood Education (ACE). ACE is an exclusive group of Kansas and Missouri business leaders who support investments in quality early childhood education. It is founded by business leaders for business leaders. His organization works with business leaders to educate them about the economic benefits of early childhood education to have them in turn educate our elected officials about the importance of passing legislation that supports this cause. While most of the work of ACE is being done out of Kansas City at this point, there is some momentum to start a St. Louis based chapter. The Gateway Center for Giving intends to support those efforts through our newly created Early Childhood Funders Affinity Group.
Congratulations to SOS for a great program! We look forward to next year’s event.