The Springfield Area Regional Council has been focusing on reflecting on what we have accomplished this past year and what we would like to focus on next year. We did this by looking at data. The council noted that the poverty levels have increased in the region. In 2012, 19.6% of children under 6 lived in households 100% below the federal poverty line. This number increased to 25.4% in 2017. The majority of regional data available was the same as the previous year and had not been updated. We also spent time debriefing the actions we took. The council decided to focus on three main priority areas, basic needs, safe and supported children and families, and supported early childhood workforce.
The projects we want to continue to support are Welcome Baby Bags, diaper banks, and the WIC initiative in the Springfield School District with the hopes of spreading it when ready. Our new focus for this year will be strengthening developmental screenings for children and increasing the usage of the Universal Developmental Screening Registry.
For safe and supported children we will continue our work with the local ACEs in Action group, continue to support resilience in the community, play groups, parenting skills and promoting strengthening families. Our new focus will be around supporting families involved with DCF-FSD.
This past year the Springfield Area Council started its work on the Same Page Initiative aimed at supporting the transition from preK to kindergarten by strengthening connections, providing trainings and creating mentoring opportunities between kindergarten teachers, preK teachers, families and community organizations. The council plans on continuing its work to grow and expand this program.
Also, in May, four members of the council were able to attend the Help Me Grow National Forum and present on family engagement strategies we have done in our region, collaboration, and outreach to providers. The feedback we got from those in attendance was very affirming and the information that we were able to learn and bring back to the region was impactful. Thank you to all who made that happen.