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NORTHWEST CORNER/PRESS RELEASE — Northwest CT Community Foundation releases Early Childhood Report: Our Children Our Future, Develops Northwest Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance

The Northwest CT Community Foundation has released Our Children Our Future. The report underscores the importance of the early childhood years and offers a glimpse into the state of child well-being in Northwest Connecticut.

The Community Foundation created this report to better understand the cause and effect of various developmental obstacles that may prevent some local children from reaching their potential. It is intended to provide insight into how many of the region’s youngest residents may not have access to what they need for optimal development, even when they are supported by loving parents and a caring network of state and local service providers, health professionals, educators and neighbors devoted to their well-being.

Our Children Our Future underscores importance of a child’s physical and social-emotional environment as a powerful influence that chemically affects brain activity and shapes brain architecture. These influences either help or impair the development of a wide range of abilities that children will use throughout their lifetimes, including their ability to:

• learn
• have positive social skills
• have positive life-management skills
• be self-confident and have high self-esteem
• develop a sense of empathy
• have successful relationships at later ages

Read Our Children, Our Future at www.northwestcf.org

Our Children Our Future is helping to shape strategic community investments on behalf of our children, families, and the communities in which they reside, including the development of the Northwest Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.

Informed by the Report, the Community Foundation is working to build the Northwest Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, a partnership of community residents and all those working to enhance the wellbeing of our youngest children (0-8) and their families. The Alliance will be an informal network that values, supports, and strengthens organizations, structures, and systems to improve the lives of children and families in our region.

The Foundation is pleased to announce that Heather Black has joined the Community foundation as Northwest Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Coordinator. Heather is responsible for developing and refining the Alliance processes and implementation strategies. She will work closely with regional organizations as a partner to build the Alliance, and will foster information and best practice sharing among the Alliance members and community partners. Most crucially, she will work to strengthen partnerships and alliances and build greater alignment across the region’s stakeholders.

Heather Black LPCA, IMH-E.

· Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA), Connecticut Department of Public Health, Hartford, CT
· Infant Mental Health Endorsement (IMH-E), Connecticut Association for Infant Mental Health, New Haven, CT
· 068 School Counselor Certification, Connecticut State Department of Education, Hartford, CT.

Richard Sussman, PhD. will facilitate and lead the formation of the Alliance. Dr. Sussman was the leader and driving force behind the Hartford Foundation’s 25-year, $35 million early childhood initiative. As part of a local planning team, Dr. Sussman helped create the first municipal blueprint for early childhood services in Hartford and assisted in the development of both the Hartford Office for Young Children and the establishment of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. He also developed, in partnership with Hartford parents, six neighborhood based Family Centers that serve as local neighborhood community hubs for parent education and training, child development, and resident mobilization on family issues.

Richard Sussman, PhD.
· Academic training: Clinical/Community Psychologist, PhD, Yale 1987
· Professional Experience: Community Philanthropy (i.e., grant-making, community convening, resident engagement, staff development and training in early childhood and family support arenas) for 30 years
· Community Leadership in early childhood and family support on local, state, and national levels
· Public Policy Engagement on local and state levels
· Community Resident Training and Engagement in Research and Program Development
· Participated in the national early childhood/family support resource exchange network managed by UCLA entitled Population Change which seeks to improve the lives of children and families in select locales across the country

Quote:

“Our hope is that all community stakeholders will use this report to take steps to address these findings, develop partnerships with others to create new strategies for supporting our children and families, and to advocate for local, state and federal policy changes that will improve child and family outcomes,” said Guy Rovezzi, Northwest CT Community Foundation president.

Established in 1969, the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation serves 20 towns in Northwest Connecticut. Its total endowment, comprised of more than 280 funds, has grown from initial assets of $15,000 to more than $125 million. Last year, combined grants and scholarships totaled in excess of $5 million.

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