To the Editor;
On December 5, 2011, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School committee voted to begin phasing out the Early Childhood Vocational Program and along with it, the Martha’s Vineyard Family Center at the high school, as of January 2014. This decision marks the end of a brilliant collaboration between the MV Public Schools and MV Community Services (MVCS).
I say brilliant because it was a true community collaboration. High school students had a laboratory for real life work with parents and children, and all families in the community had an inviting space to gather with their children for family activities, education and support – at no cost to participants. This was made possible through grants to MVCS from the Children’s Trust Fund and the Department of Early Education and Care.
Many high school students began their education as infants in Family Center activities and have come full circle, now as graduating high school students remembering fondly where they started. The model was brilliant.
I am saddened to see the loss of the Early Childhood Voc program, as the importance of the early years in a child’s development is becoming more widely understood and the need for qualified Early Childhood Teachers continues to grow. Research now proves that investment in young children and families yields high returns.
Apparently the number of high school students enrolled in the program has been dropping (for a number of reasons) and prompted the school committee vote.
Participation by the community in Family Center activities, however, remains steady. More than 700 families each year for the last 16 years have attended playgroups, parent support groups, parent education classes, parent/child activities and been connected to other services in the community.
Raising children is by far the most challenging yet important work any of us will ever engage in, and it is clear that no one can do it alone. At the Family Center, connections are made from teen parents to grandparents and everyone in between. Information is shared, stressors are minimized, and families are strengthened. Again, the model was brilliant.
January 2014 will come quickly. MVCS is looking to formulate a plan moving forward to keep the Family Center in our community without our present high school location. We would like to hear from the community your thoughts regarding the value of the services and any ideas for future locations and collaborations. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MVCS Early Childhood Programs