Our Time is Now: A Letter from our CEO Gina M. Fromer
Greetings to all of you –
I am blown away! Having just finished my first six months as Chief Executive Officer at Children’s Council, I am thrilled to report that this organization is humming! We are truly positioned to make a huge difference at this moment in history. I believe it is our responsibility to fulfill our potential and make that impact in our community.
Because you are a member of the Children’s Council community, I’d like to share with you some of the amazing things I’ve learned. I hope you’ll be as inspired and excited as I am about what we’re doing now and about some of the incredible opportunities that lie ahead.
I began my tenure with a listening tour, speaking with our own talented and dedicated staff, our Board of Directors, and many of you in our community. I’d like to offer a special thanks to Sandee Blechman for her investment of time and energy in my acclimation during her final weeks before retirement. The task of moving our mission forward is an exciting undertaking, which will require a strong, collective effort.
Under the guidance of our Board Chair, Anna Nordberg, we are developing a three-year strategic plan. It is clear to me that at this moment, with unprecedented local and state political support, our ever-expanding network of child champions across the nation, and groundbreaking academic research about the physiological, social, and economic benefits of early education, we stand within a window of opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. This is our opportunity to dream big about how we can best prepare our youngest children for school and for life.
This month, we heard from the Governor’s office about their intention to widen their investment in early childhood education. We heard from policy experts about the convergence of knowledge in brain science and the economic indicators that affirm the investment in child care as one that will bring huge ROI to our communities. And most of all, we heard confirmation from our peers that the unmet need is still immense.
Families across our state are struggling to make ends meet, and the high cost of living in California is exacerbated for many families by the economic ramifications of early care and education. Supporting children in their infancy and toddler years is expensive, but that does not relieve us of our duty to do so. It simply means that we all need to come together to share in the mission. Only together will we lift up our community!
“Only together will we lift up our community!”
Children’s Council is at the forefront of leadership and innovation in the early care and education field. Each year, we touch the lives of over 20,000 families. Above and beyond helping parents find and pay for the child care or preschool that meets their needs, we teach families critical child development skills and help to build more diverse, thriving communities by increasing the supply of high-quality child care programs in the neighborhoods that need them most.
Our pioneering San Francisco spirit is reflected in the work you may have heard about:
Play Lab popping up around town – Grounded in the Five Protective Factors, Children’s Council’s family services team meets families where they are to provide comprehensive, flexible, and individualized support and connection in a manner that affirms and builds on families’ strengths. Our evolving set of offerings includes weekly playgroups, monthly parent cafés, a support group for new and expecting moms – all facilitated by experts – as well as a toy & book lending library.
We offer parents and caregivers structured opportunities to build confidence and community so they can help children grow and thrive. Currently, we are fundraising to create the Play Lab, an adaptable physical space that can be used for these programs, along with hands-on education services for early care programs and for parents searching for child care. Be on the lookout for Play Lab pop-ups – much like the one we hosted at our annual 1,800-person City Kids Family Fair – where families, caregivers and children can all have fun while learning together.
We are in the Nurture Business – One of our newest programs, the Nurture Business is a full spectrum of business incubation services that help home-based child care businesses start, become sustainable, and thrive. Our third full cohort of new and aspiring business owners has just embarked on the journey toward serving the SF neighborhoods with the least access to quality child care.
These businesses anchor their neighborhoods and serve as high-quality hubs of learning, caring and support for the families they serve.
Healthy Apple recognized by Harvard University – Children’s Council works to ensure that all children in San Francisco are cared for in healthy environments where they can develop socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. We are expanding our Healthy Apple Program, pairing early educators with peer mentors to establish lifelong healthy habits for low-income children through nutritious eating and physical activity.
This fall, Healthy Apple was recognized by the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Zaentz Early Education Initiative as one of the most innovative programs in the country.
Parent Voices fighting for “baby” Prop C – This past July, at the appeal hearing for “baby” Proposition C (passed in June 2018), our Parent Voices chapter gathered to let the justice system and the media know that we care immensely about this measure, which is poised to substantially increase funding for early childhood education in our city.
We won the appeal, but the fight is not over, as anti-tax advocates have since filed another appeal at the state level. The longer we wait to get these dollars into the hands of families, the longer children wait for the opportunity to learn and grow in nurturing environments. Children’s brains develop so fast in their first five years of life… SF kids can’t wait!
I am so excited to see what the future holds for Children’s Council and look forward to sharing with you the results of our strategic plan next spring. In the meantime, I always want to hear from our community of supporters, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to share your thoughts and ideas.
Gina M. Fromer
CEO, Children’s Council