Faith leaders gather to discuss early childhood

More than two dozen faith leaders joined United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 team to learn more about investing in our community’s youngest members.

UWATX research shows that 30 percent of full-time nonprofit child care centers and 80 percent of part-time centers are affiliated with a religious organization. Beyond these, UWATX also wanted to reach families who weren’t already accessing services.

“Reaching vulnerable children before they enter school is a significant challenge for our community, particularly because many parents do not access child care and rely on family, friends or neighbors.” said Sue Carpenter, Sr. Director of Success By 6. “The faith community is a valuable entry point to support those families. More than that, many churches provide services for young kids – from Sunday School to Vacation Bible School – so they have the opportunity to really change lives.”

Debbie Bressette, President of UWATX, welcomed everyone and Sam Bryant, member of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, lead the program with a non-denominational prayer. Leah Meunier, early childhood expert and Manager of Donor Engagement at UWATX, shared the need in our community and Ellen Jockusch, St. James’ Episcopal School, and Rudi Andrus, Mainspring Schools, spoke about the opportunities available for faith leaders to make a difference.

The event was the beginning of a longer effort to engage the faith community in the ongoing conversation about supporting young children.

As an easy first step, UWATX distributed Born Learning materials, research-based tools for parents in English and Spanish, that leaders could take back to their own communities and distribute to parents.

“We now have in our hands more than twenty commitments from the participants – an inspiring beginning for our efforts,” said Carpenter.

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