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WHO WE ARE

Overview


Monroe Smart Start is a coalition of public and private organizations, businesses, and parents who are working together to ensure that local children enter school healthy, well-cared for, and ready to succeed in school and in life.

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We're focusing on those first five years because that's when most brain development occurs and the foundations for the skills and attributes necessary to succeed in school and eventually become productive, involved citizens are established. Those first five years are critical to a child's development and lifetime success.

A child's success relies on good health, positive early childhood experiences, and strong families. Therefore, we're building a county-wide movement - bringing together young children's families, early care and education providers, health and human service providers, business and faith community leaders, county residents and our local cities - to work in new ways, across traditional sectors and systems that will more effectively and efficiently support the healthy development and school readiness of our children.

Our approach is illustrated by the following graphic that recognizes the part we all play in supporting children’s healthy development and future success:

                              

Our county is currently developing a plan, Monroe County Plan for a Smart Start (when this plan is completed and ready to be posted, there will be a link) that contains goals and strategies to lead us to our mission to bring families and communities together to make sure children enter kindergarten healthy, happy and ready to succeed.

Our Framework
Our Steering Committee
Our Working Groups/Members


Our History
The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC) and the United Way of Monroe County joined forces as founding members of Monroe Smart Start following a year of investigation by the Education Task Force of CFBMC. They gathered input from local stakeholders about area needs and opportunities and studied successful models from other communities before taking the step of hiring a director to form a local coalition to focus both resources and awareness on the critical early years.

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This decision to focus on birth to five is well-supported in the research literature. This research documents the many benefits of supporting this period of intense cognitive, social and emotional development, when the foundations of learning are laid. Early childhood development efforts can significantly increase success in school, graduation rates, workforce readiness, job productivity and community engagement. And, such work is linked to meaningful reductions in special education costs, grade repetition, teenage pregnancy, crime rates, welfare dependency, and job training costs. The Community Foundation and United Way realized that increasing parents’ knowledge and the supports available to them would be a wise investment of the community’s resources. Every child deserves a Smart Start, and the communities of Monroe County stand to benefit!

In February of 2009, the Coalition had its first formal meeting of all interested people at Ivy Tech of Bloomington.  Since then, about 50 individuals who represent many aspects of our communities have been meeting on a monthly basis in five different working groups to develop a plan to guide the efforts of Monroe Smart Start. Each of these groups represents stakeholders in our county who influence school readiness in our children birth to five. By Fall 2010, the strategic plan will be completed, and work will begin on specific efforts and initiatives.

For a description of each of the working groups, click on one or more of the links below. Each of these groups includes a variety of people.

Community Working Group
Early Care and Education
K-12 Educators
Parent/Primary Caregiver
Physical/Mental Health Providers