Since 2009, the Family Development Program has taken a leadership role as part the national Early Childhood Linkages Initiative led by the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), home of the National Coalition of Community Schools. Families and educational leaders are engaged to increase their understanding of how ready families, ready schools, ready services, and ready communities can support children’s readiness for school and educational success. The Family Development Program’s unique approach to Early Childhood Collaborative Leadership along with Mind in the Making resources have been creatively leveraged to build a strong foundation for school success that bridges early learning into elementary school years. Thanks to a 3 year grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Family Development Program had the opportunity to work closely with 5 community schools that are part of Albuquerque’s ABC Community Schools Partnership. Partnerships were created between early childhood services, parents with young children not yet in school and their neighborhood elementary school as a continuum of learning that starts at birth.
Currently, The Family Development Program is partnering with the Institute for Educational Leadership to strategically address early childhood collaboration and the kinds of community-based leadership capacities needed to build sustainable early childhood linkages within community schools. This national collaboration is experimenting with leadership development strategies that leverage the Family Development Program’s innovative Early Childhood Leadership training model and approach to provide support for community school and other educational leaders who have made a commitment to work together in new ways to overcome inequities that perpetuate poor outcomes for children and their families. As national attention increasingly focuses on the importance of children’s development in their early years, developing and supporting community leaders is key to creating a continuum of learning where all children thrive.