The foundation for a strong start in life begins at birth.
Decades of research demonstrate that early experiences, relationships and environment strongly influence a child’s future success in school, work and life. Still other data show that 90 percent of brain development happens before a child is five years old, and that children who don’t attend preschool are 25 percent more likely to drop out of high school. While our state’s made some strides in expanding availability and access to high-quality early learning programs for our youngest citizens, Montana remains one of five without state-funded pre-school.
How can we best support young children and their families, especially the most vulnerable? How can we leverage the power, programs and relationships of Missoula’s strong early-childhood community of providers and advocates to ensure that our community has the knowledge, resources and will to ensure that all kids 0-5 have strong start in life?
On January 28, a City Club Missoula panel of diverse experts will address these questions, and provide an overview of an ambitious new early childhood collaboration funded by Missoula-based Headwaters Foundation that aims to transform the earl-childhood landscape in four western Montana cities, including Missoula.
Panelist include headwaters Foundation CEO Brenda Solorzano; Susan Harper-Whalen, Associate Dean, phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Montana; and Ashley Ostheimer Hilliard, a UM graduate student and young mother. The panel will be moderated by Grace Decker, coordinator of Missoula’s Zero To Five early childhood collaborative, housed at United Way of Missoula County.