Category: Success By 6

Fall Day of Caring: A Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit Collaboration

COVID-19 has impacted all of us, including young kids. As the reality of the pandemic set in, and schools closed abruptly to keep students and their families safe — many students were navigating the challenges of remote learning for several months. It’s no surprise that education professionals have witnessed a stall in reading skills among young students since the pandemic began in early 2020. That is why, this year, our annual Fall Day of Caring took form as a book extravaganza! On Thursday, September 30, the Greater Austin Reading Coalition , convened by United Way, partnered with BookSpring to distribute 5,000 books to local community organizations supporting families with children ages 5-12.  Special thanks to our partners at Enterprise and Onnit who volunteered their time and effort to distribute all of the books throughout the region! At United Way, our mission is to fight poverty, and we know that reading is a crucial skill to help future generations win. Currently, only 30% of children from families with low income are reading at grade level by 4th grade. Our goal is that all children in Greater Austin reach that level. By increasing access to quality out-of-school learning opportunities, culturally relevant books, and building a community culture of reading, we can move the needle on grade-level reading rates in our community and create greater opportunity for local children and families. We’re honored to get 5,000 more books into the hands of young readers. Thank you to our partners, Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit, for […]

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Join us for Blue Sunday

Blog by Caitlin Oliver, Success By 6 Intern, United Way for Greater Austin The Success By 6 Coalition is a community wide collaboration of child and family advocates – providers, parents, policymakers, civic leaders, and experts – with a shared goal to ensure every child born in the Austin area receives the support and care they deserve during their essential first 2,000 days. United Way for Greater Austin is the convener of this work in Austin/Travis County. The Success By 6 Coalition (SX6) is made up of community stakeholders collectively creating a future in which all children in our community enter Kindergarten healthy, happy, and ready to succeed in school and life. To prepare all our youngest Austinites for school readiness, we partner with nonprofits in the community to deliver impactful services through four focus areas: Healthy beginnings Supported families High-quality care & education Safe & stimulating communities Together with our partners, we are building a stronger foundation for Austin so all families can thrive. This year we are expanding our support of whole families by participating in Blue Sunday and raising awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Blue Sunday is a day in which faith communities join together in prayer for children experiencing abuse and neglect. Each year this day of prayer falls on the last Sunday in April, which is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This year, Blue Sunday is April 25, 2021. Child abuse and neglect statistics in Travis County and Texas are heartbreaking: In Travis […]

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United together, we can weather every storm

Fighting poverty means fighting to change broken systems, and last week every member of our community felt the weight of broken systems. No one in Texas was safe from the statewide systems failure that caused millions of Texans to be without power, heat, clean drinking water, and access to food and resources when needed. It was a terrible week, and our community will feel the weight of tragedy and trauma for years to come as we rebuild together. As setbacks mounted many felt hopeless, but in the wake of the disaster something beautiful happened. While systems let us down, our neighbors came together to find their own solutions. United together in community, we helped each other make it through. There are many bright stories from across the city of grassroots organizations, volunteers, and individuals who made sure neighbors had some way to stay warm and fed, and that they had access to water. The team at United Way for Greater Austin saw an opportunity to bring together our friends and partners to help with the water crisis, and quickly jumped into action.  Last Friday (February 19), reports of city-wide water outages and clean water concerns surfaced. United Way ATX’s Madison Mattise (Director of Pre-K Partnerships) and Cathy McHorse (VP of Success By 6) wanted to ensure that Austin families with young children had access to the clean water they needed to weather this crisis. They immediately began connecting with the greater United Way ATX team, partners, and local child care […]

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Supporting our littlest Austinites, together

Family Connects Texas recently celebrated its second birthday, and the program is striding forward, full steam ahead with plans for growth. We are so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last few years serving families at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and we are committed to serving even more families in the years to come. We have a bold goal: to make sure that all babies born in Austin/Travis County have the best possible start in life. “We really enjoyed our nurse home visit with Family Connects, and our nurse was fantastic! She provided wonderful resources, and a lot of important information for parents. Even though we already have a two-year-old, there were a lot of things that we learned from our visit, and we were impressed that the nurse checked on the health of the family in general. We would definitely recommend a nurse home visit with Family Connects for all parents.” — Brandon C. It takes a village to raise a baby, and for many families in Austin, Family Connects is that support structure. In just a few short years, we’ve made great progress on our goal to serve families in Austin. Already we have: Served over 1,300 families in Austin/Travis County Successfully connected 78% of families who indicated a need with support services, from food assistance programs to family support groups to lactation consulting Addressed some need or concern — either during the nurse visit or through a outside connection — for […]

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Child care advocacy in action

When 2020 began, child care was already facing a tough dilemma. Teachers were underpaid and stretched thin, families were struggling to afford high-quality care, and child care programs were surviving on budgets with razor-thin margins. The pandemic has only worsened these strains. The problems were always there, but 2020 became the year that the world noticed that child care is in crisis. As schools and businesses shut down in March, Governor Abbott asked child care centers to stay open to serve the children of essential workers. Many local programs heeded that call to action despite the many unknowns about virus mitigation, transmission, increased costs, decreased revenue, and long-term sustainability. At the same time, our Success By 6 Coalition (SX6) began advocating for relief funding by contacting local officials, providing comment and testimony at meetings, and more. Many coalition members responded to the call for advocacy, and many leaders of local child care centers also emerged as leaders in advocating for their staff and families. The Austin City Council, in turn, allocated $5M+ child care relief funds, recognizing child care as a vital economic sector of the Austin economy. Austin is one of the only cities in the state providing substantial relief with local dollars for child care, thanks in part to powerful testimony from these local leaders.      Patsy Harnage has continued her advocacy, and was recently featured in an interview with KXAN sharing her support for essential child care workers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Our advocacy has helped […]

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Uniquely Austin: The Early Childhood Council is helping all children in Austin thrive.

We all know Austin is unique for so many reasons, but did you know about our unique approach to early childhood investments? Our city has a formal body that advises City Council on early childhood issues and initiatives, dating back to 1985! Today this body is known as the Early Childhood Council (ECC), and is made up of 13 stakeholders from different sectors, who come together with recommendations on how our City Council should budget, spend, and address all matters that help ensure that our kids happy, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and beyond.  The Early Childhood Council is a very important part of our early care and education ecosystem, and their work promotes our Success By 6 Coalition efforts, helping us reach the goals of our strategic plan. We are grateful for the work they do, and we want everyone in Austin to celebrate them! Hear from a Success By 6 Coalition Leadership Team member and ECC member, Dr. Aletha C. Huston, on some recent successes from the ECC. Blog contributions from Aletha C. Huston, Professor Emerita of Child Development, University of Texas at Austin Early Childhood Council Member, District 5 Success By 6 Coalition Leadership Team Member The Early Childhood Council (ECC) is a City of Austin commission assigned to make recommendations to City Council for the “creation, development, and implementation of programs that promote optimal development for young children…and contribute to a system of high-quality early care and education and after-school programs for Austin’s children.” […]

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Happy 2nd Birthday Family Connects! Meet the Nurses…

Family Connects Texas turns 2 years old this month, and we are so excited to celebrate the women who make this work possible! In case you didn’t know, research shows that 95 percent of all families have needs after the birth of a child. These needs are unique to each family, and Family Connects bridges the gap between parents and community resources to improve family well-being. Our nurses serve whole families in Austin/Travis County, checking in on all caregivers and the baby in the early postpartum period! We have proudly served over 1,300 families over the last 2 years through St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and we have loved every minute of it. Don’t take it from us, take it from our team on the front line! Meet the amazing Family Connects nursing team: Brenda Fincher, RN Senior Why do you love Family Connects? I know that having a baby is the most special time in your life, a time to be celebrated! Unfortunately it can also be stressful and parents can have unexpected concerns and worries! I love that Family Connects provides an opportunity to spend time with new parents and connecting with them to give them support and reassurance. I love working with the Mommies and their Babies! I know that when I have left a family and the Mommy is feeling more confident and reassured, It’s a good day for me! Do any moments or stories stick out from your work with families that you can […]

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Meeting families where they are, virtually

Even before COVID-19 we knew that all families could use support at the birth of a child, and some things never change. Now more than ever families may be experiencing heightened stress, anxiety, and other obstacles when they are bringing a new child into their home. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. That’s why Family Connects Texas offers a FREE home visit from a registered nurse for families with a newborn. Before the pandemic, our nurses would come to your family’s home 3-weeks postpartum and offer in depth support. Now, our nurses meet you virtually, to help your family safely in today’s socially distanced world. During your 2-hour video chat, nurses check on mom, baby, and the whole family. In light of COVID-19, Family Connects was able to pivot their model to meet families where they are – virtually. We are so proud of our team for finding innovative ways to reimagine what high quality care and education in our community looks like. Families are still receiving the same great service, at a safe social distance during COVID-19. Staci Bishopp is a local first-time mom who has been weathering birth and postpartum during the pandemic, and she is thankful for the support Family Connects was able to provide her.  Staci, her partner Tim, and their baby Finn all received a virtual visit from a Family Connects nurse earlier this summer. She first learned about Family Connects Texas from her providers at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and signed […]

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Success By 6 Coalition Launches 2019-2023 “Success By 6” Strategic Plan

Every day, an average of 38 babies are born in the Austin area. The Success By 6 (SX6) Coalition is working to ensure that each of these 38 brand-new Texans has an equal opportunity to thrive. SX6 is a coalition of child and family advocates – providers, parents, policymakers, civic leaders, philanthropists, business leaders, and early childhood experts – working together on a community plan that reflects our collective wisdom and amplifies our collective voice.   “Success By 6 has child development at the heart of its mission,” Dr. Jennifer Duc, Assistant Clinical Professor, UT-Austin Pediatric Residency Program and Outpatient Pediatrician, CommUnityCare said. “Success By 6 knows that nurtured children and supported families create the foundation for strong, healthy, and successful communities.”     On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, the SX6 Coalition launched the next iteration of our community’s strategic plan and lay out their strategies and goals for the next 2,000 days. From 7:15 – 9 a.m. civic leaders, including Mayor Steve Adler, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Council Member Alison Alter, early childhood education experts, policymakers and more gathered to celebrate the hard work and collaboration that went into creating the plan. Attendees heard a keynote from The University of Texas System Chancellor James B. Milliken over breakfast at the University of Texas Club.   Why a 2,000-day journey? Because research has proven that the first five years of a child’s life strongly influence the rest. Ninety percent of brain development happens within the 2,000 days from birth to Kindergarten, […]

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Where Hope Takes Root

More than 70,000 children in Central Texas live in poverty and face challenges that stand in the way of learning, like hunger, trauma, homelessness, poverty and poor health. Without community support, they are more at risk for missing school, dropping out and failing to earn a high school diploma. Community In Schools (CIS) sees potential in every student, and they are committed to helping students believe in their own ability to achieve.   CIS are experts at bringing communities together for students. They collaborate with school districts and schools, deliver resources, work with local businesses, social service agencies, healthcare providers and volunteers to support students and families in overcoming obstacles and roadblocks to success. Thanks to this collaborative network, our community is a better place for students in need. United Way for Greater Austin is proud to fund the ASPIRE program run by CIS, and we are thrilled to see the convening of different entities committed to creating bright futures for all our neighbors.   ASPIRE (Achieving Success through Parental Involvement, Reading and Education) breaks the cycle of illiteracy and poverty within families by providing comprehensive, integrated literacy services for the entire family. This dual-generation (or 2-Gen) program brings parents and children together for educational success. School Readiness is the result of a process that starts at birth and relies on the home environment and parental involvement to help them achieve Success by 6. ASPIRE serves families with children that are living in poverty in Travis County. Parents experiencing poverty face […]

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