Our Initiatives

The ECA’s Strategic Priorities

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing

Develop a community campaign aimed at empowering parents as their child’s first “brain builder”

Comprehensive Screening

Develop a community-wide system for comprehensive screening & early intervention

Child Care & Early Learning

Increase the number of children that have high quality child care & early learning experiences

Support for Pregnant and Parenting Women

Ensure comprehensive supports for pregnant women, parenting families and women of childbearing age

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing - Infusion Strategy

ECA Objectives:

  • Promote a community wide understanding of the importance of early literacy as part of healthy child development and kindergarten readiness
  • Increase the knowledge and competencies of human service, early care and education workforce.

The ECA’s Community Infusion Strategy is based upon the national Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing initiative.

Through Talk, Read, Sing, parents are provided straightforward materials that describe the types of interactions they can have with their child and why those interactions are important. The tool kit includes relevant parenting information and contact information for families that have additional questions.

“Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” helps parents recognize their power to boost their children’s early brain and vocabulary development through simple, everyday actions – like describing things while walking outside, or singing songs together during bath time. Using books, parent videos, text messaging, social media, and information from expert partners, Talking is Teaching empowers parents and caregivers with fun and easy ways to improve their babies’ learning.

In the pilot stage of Talk, Read, Sing, the program was introduced to approximately 75 families who are working with Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and Department of Children & Family Services. Front-line staff supported parental understanding of the early learning capacity of their babies and young children and the critical role that talking, reading, singing and playing can have on brain development. These front line workers repeatedly provide messages related to the critical role parents play in actively and intentionally engaging with infants and toddlers and provided materials to parents that reinforce these important messages. The pilot stage tested out various materials and evaluated the impact certain messages are having. The pilot program is being refined in 2016 with the potential for a larger community roll-out in 2017.

Source:  Talking is Teaching: www.talkingisteaching.org

Comprehensive Developmental Screening

ECA Objectives:

  • Develop and strengthen community-wide systems for comprehensive screening and early intervention to ensure early detection of developmental delays or disabilities, and other health concerns such as hearing loss, vision impairment and dental health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental and behavioral screening with a standardized developmental screening tool when a child is 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months of age. These screenings may be done in early childhood settings, schools, community based intervention programs, or in the child’s medical home.

As many as one in four children through the age of five are at risk for a developmental delay or disability. Early identification allows communities to intervene earlier, leading to more effective and cheaper treatment during preschool years, rather than expensive special education services later in childhood.

From birth to 5 years, your child should reach milestones in how he plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves. Track your child’s development and act early if you have a concern.  The CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” website provides parents with information about important developmental milestones from birth through five years of age.  You can access milestone checkoff lists as well as watch “milestones in action” videos. Learn more at www.cdc.gov

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.acf.hhss.gov

Quality Child Care and Early Learning

ECA Objectives:

  • Increase community and stakeholder awareness of the importance of child care and early learning experiences.
  • Increase the numbers of at-risk children that have high quality child care experiences.
  • Support efforts to provide increased supports to informal care providers 

Early care and education programs serve children from infancy to age five in a variety of settings—child care centers; family child care homes; Prekindergarten (Pre-K) and Head Start classes. Thousands more are served in legally exempt (non-regulated family, friend and neighbor) home-based child care. All care, regardless of setting, should be affordable, accessible, and most importantly—high-quality.

Research shows that high-quality, intensive early care and education programs for low-income children can have lasting positive effects. The positive effects from high-quality programs and the negative effects from poor-quality programs are magnified for children from disadvantaged situations or with special needs, and yet these children are least likely to have access to quality early care and education.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.acf.hhss.gov

Comprehensive Supports for Pregnant or Parenting Women

ECA Objectives:

  • Review currently available supports, programs and interventions for high-risk pregnant women, and for women of childbearing age that encourage healthy behaviors
  • Explore options for creating a systems approach to providing comprehensive home visiting and other support services for vulnerable families

“While infant mortality has declined in this country, the United States still ranks last among 17 developed nations, and near the bottom in child mortality and low birth weight. There are also severe racial and socioeconomic inequalities in birth outcomes. Ensuring the health of mother and child depends on prenatal and postpartum care, as well as many health and social factors. High-risk pregnancies are more likely for women who are in stressful circumstances or unstable housing, have physical or mental health conditions, lack education or transportation, are unemployed and have other babies.”

Source: Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, www.hfwcny.org