Where we’ve been…
Support for Early Learning and Families’ story began in August 2001 when representatives of six founding member organizations sat over coffee and asked the question, “How can we work to improve opportunities for our community’s, infants, toddlers and preschoolers?” This question began a journey that has made a significant contribution to our children and our community. Since 2001, we have had many successes and learned many lessons while never wavering from our vision that every child in Clark County thrives.
Our collaborative expanded to 20+ early learning partners and between May 2002 and 2010, we raised over $4 million for early learning programs and services through grants, events, and donors. We actively pursued filling gaps in services and built programs that:
- Supported parents as their child’s first teacher
- Promoted literacy and a love of reading
- Advanced quality improvements In early childhood programs
- Connected early learning and K-3 education.
While we made significant progress and enjoyed numerous successes, we also learned some valuable lessons:
- We need a sustainable funding stream to support programs.
- We need community-wide, multi-sector engagement and investment.
As a result, the decision was made for Support for Early Learning & Families to become a nonprofit organization, with a community-based board of directors. The board was charged with building a countywide social change movement for early childhood education.
In 2010 with a small but dedicated board of directors and one staff member, we created Our Children Can’t Wait, a social change movement that would allow us to build a comprehensive, high-quality, collaborative early learning system in Clark County. In 2012, we adopted a social impact framework (Collective Impact), a model used successfully around the country, as our approach for Our Children Can’t Wait.
Research shows that quality early learning can make a big difference, especially for disadvantaged children, by closing the opportunity gaps that start before kindergarten.
Early learning is a smart investment that helps build a stronger education system and a more competitive workforce for the future. In fact, research proves that every dollar invested in early childhood gives a return of $7 or more in greater readiness for kindergarten, less need for special education, more success throughout K-12, fewer social services, and even less likelihood of prison.
In 2017, Support for Early Learning & Families won the contract with Educational Service District 112 to be the hiring agency for all the employees of the ESD’s child care centers. This brought a major change to SELF, as we went from one employee to hundreds. An administrative team was hired to handle human resources, finances, and more. When the COVID-19 pandemic trimmed the number of centers, SELF rode the wave of adjustments. No matter the situation, SELF’s goal is a well-trained, highly appreciated staff.
Support for Early Learning and Families continues its role as an advocate for early childhood at the state and local levels, with innovative programs to address the child care crisis and advocacy with lawmakers for greater support of programs that raise early childhood. Support for Early Learning & Families is known as a statewide force for the good of young children.