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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
NH Listens Partners with Local Communities to Improve Lives of Young Children and Families
DURHAM, N.H. – NH Listens will work this year with 8 communities to identify local opportunities that ensure young children are ready for school. Local and regional leadership coalitions have formed to strengthen children, families, and communities to assure the well-being of all New Hampshire’s children age 0-5, including those growing up in economically and socially compromised situations.
Each community will seek broad input before crafting action plans that will make a positive impact on early childhood education and development.
With the generous support of the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, nine communities: Claremont, Laconia, Monadnock, Mt. Washington Valley, Nashua, Rochester, Somersworth, and Tilton will participate in the program: Strengthening Our Communities with Strong Starts for New Hampshire Children.
Experts agree that the early years are critical to later development and new research reiterates the importance of ensuring that kids are ready to learn when they start school. Families and communities have changed in recent decades, requiring new approaches. “We are excited to create a public engagement process that meets the needs of each individual community. As we learn more about the critical importance of early childhood education and development and we understand that families have different needs than they may have in past decades, we hope this initiative can help NH kids have a strong start when they are ready for school,” noted NH Listens Co-Director Michele Holt-Shannon.
“Because governance structures and political decision making in New Hampshire is highly localized, we believe that supporting a series of local and regional actions could ultimately lead to the best possible outcomes for New Hampshire children across the entire state,” said Kim Firth, Endowment for Health program director.
“We must make New Hampshire a place where all of our kids have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Katie Merrow, vice president of community impact at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. “We’re excited to support a process that brings all voices to the table – local leaders, parents, educators and more. We all have a stake in this; our state’s future prosperity will depend on how well we help our kids to thrive today. ”
New Hampshire Listens is a civic engagement initiative of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. In the same way that we need the physical infrastructure of roads, bridges, and buildings, we need to build, strengthen, and sustain civic infrastructure to support a strong democracy. Since 2010, we have worked at the local and state level to support civil, public deliberation of complex issues affecting New Hampshire residents’ everyday lives.