Parent Input and Community Collaboration Drive New Great Expectations Grants

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust today announced Great Expectations’ grants aimed at helping young children in Forsyth County enter school ready to learn and leave set for success.

The Trust’s investments build on information gleaned from Forsyth Family Voices, a listening and learning effort to gather insights from parents and providers in our community. Grants were also informed by a thorough analysis of existing gaps in the early childhood system.

“Parents told us they need better access to health services and quality childcare—and that the system is difficult to navigate because services are not aligned,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, president of the Trust. “Our investments put these insights into action, to support collaboration among the agencies on the frontlines of this work, and begin to align the system for the long run.”

Early Intervention and Health

Through Forsyth Family Voices, the Trust learned that many parents are not aware of the resources available and lacked access to the health services families need. As a result, the Trust is funding the Pediatric Holistic Health Initiative — a joint effort by Imprints Cares, Family Services, and Wake Forest Baptist Health to support health clinics with specialists who can connect families to behavioral health and other services, and increase their availability.

“Forsyth Family Voices helped Imprints Cares build stronger relationships with families, by truly listening to their needs and ideas. With our new grant, we’re adjusting the frequency of home visitations and adding an onsite Family Services mental health counselor,” said Trina Stephens, community engagement director for Imprints Cares.

Birth to Eight Educational Alignment

When seeking opportunities for their children, many families reported being shuffled between disconnected programs, and the analysis of gaps in the early childhood system found a lack of alignment across available programs. In response, the Trust will continue to explore Help Me Grow, a nationally-recognized approach for building local collaboration between health and developmental services aimed at children.

Additional grants will fund a deeper look on the effectiveness of Universal pre-K and how it might work in Forsyth County. Currently, almost half of children entering Forsyth County schools—particularly low-income and students of color—are at risk of falling behind their peers in reading. Research shows that enrollment in high quality pre-K can help reduce this gap, so all children enter kindergarten ready to learn.

Commitment to Listening and Learning

Listening to and learning from parents and child care providers is fundamental to Great Expectations’ success. The Trust will expand this process, working with more than 20 agencies and parents through a continual cycle of listening and learning to ensure Forsyth County’s young children succeed in school.