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User Spotlight: Katie Sloan, Smart Beginnings Hopewell-Prince George

Meet Katie Sloan, Coalition Coordinator with Smart Beginnings Hopewell-Prince George

“The rewards of this work come from the moments when parents, child care providers, and collaborative agencies make the connections to better serve children and help prepare them for school.”

Q. Tell us about yourself and your work.

I’ve worked in the early childhood care and education field for nearly 40 years and firmly believe that each child holds his or her own special blueprint for life. Helping parents and teachers discover and embrace each child’s gift best describes my passion for this work. 

Smart Beginnings works to assure that all children receive the best quality early childhood education and are prepared academically, emotionally, socially, physically, and mentally for kindergarten. Do you realize that 80% of a child’s brain development takes place before the age of 4? This is our message to our communities. We connect and make needed changes in program implementation, services and systems to raise the quality of child care, level of parent knowledge, public engagement of the needs of young children , and higher levels of health care. Our work prepares communities, schools, families, and children for the readiness needed to get children off to a great start when they enter kindergarten.

Q: What keeps you motivated and moving forward?

Knowing that we are making a difference for children in our communities is the most rewarding part of what we do together. As in all work, there are barriers to overcome. However, our coalition is growing in numbers — including our child care centers involved in our Virginia Star Quality Improvement System, parent education outreach and support, development screenings for young children, and professional development of child care providers. Connecting with other agencies to promote school readiness and to navigate services for children and families is an ongoing area of growth for our future. 

Q: What’s new that’s got you excited?

We have a new website! Please visit www.SmartBeginningsHPG.org. Check out our Teaching Your Young Child video campaign. These quick three minute videos are created using simple ideas from our community leaders on ways to interact and teach your young child. We also feature local, state, and national information on the field of early childhood care and education including Annie G. Casey Foundation’s The First Eight Years

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