Thursday, June 24, 2021

Today and Tomorrow

My alarm goes off every morning at five am. I get up, get my coffee, and write. Some days it doesn’t take. I drink my coffee, scan social media for local stories, and doze off. 

Today was one of those days.

Looking on the bright side, at least this week’s Columbia Flier was in my inbox when I awoke. For some reason it consistently shows up later than the other local papers. I can’t figure out why this is. Surely it is ready to go long before any of us wake up. It’s a mystery.

A highlight in this week’s local events is the opening of the new Bauder Education Center in Long Reach. The center will provide more spaces for young children in the county’s Head Start program, operated by the Community Action Council. Early childhood experiences are a huge influence over future social-emotional and academic success. High quality childcare programs are crucial. And everywhere that families are struggling financially, it is important that those programs are also affordable. If they are not, they become a just another way that our society perpetuates an opportunity gap which continues through schooling and beyond.

As an early childhood educator I was thrilled to see County Executive Calvin Ball use this moment to write a piece for the Columbia Flier. 

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball: Early childhood education is an investment in our future - - Commentary

There are plenty of things going on in Howard County that Ball might want to highlight. That he took the time to lift up a commitment to our community’s youngest and most vulnerable means a lot to me. Not everyone finds this topic as compelling as I do, as hard as that may be for me to believe. But the gist of what Dr. Ball has to say here about Head Start is certainly consistent with his overall theme as County Executive:

  • investing in children and families 
  • supporting our community’s health 
  • economic vitality
  • investing in our future

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an online celebration/presentation about the groundbreaking for a new United Way Family Center, which will focus on care for infants and toddlers. At the time I found myself mightily impressed by all the various entities that were needed to come together and commit to making this new center happen. I’m going to be writing more about that particular event soon. It made a big impression on me. 

Like the Bauder Education Center in Long Reach, the United Way Family Center (to be located in Gateway) will provide more than childcare. In fact, each of the two centers will support families in additional ways, connecting them with needed help such as opportunities for further education, parenting classes, and/or help with housing, food, or energy assistance. Providing such supports and resources in one place is a proven method of helping people to easily connect with the things they need most to provide a better life for themselves and their children. 

I’m grateful that Executive Ball took the time to put this issue forward. Access to to quality, affordable childcare is in critically short supply in Howard County and throughout the nation. The little ones who get a better start today are the face of our community tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if his commitment to early childhood programs is something we’ll be remembering him for, far into the future.

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