Believe it or not, playing can be a learning experience for young children. That’s why My Brother’s Keeper Houston and the Houston Health Department are raising awareness about early childhood development programs through the Houston Basics campaign.
Launched in August 2017, Houston Basics targets parents with children three and younger and aims to connect parents and their children with resources to ensure their success in Kindergarten and beyond.
“It’s critical that our city’s youngest residents are well equipped to overcome some of the challenges that await them along their educational continuum,” said Noel Pinnock, bureau chief of youth and adolescent health for the HHD.
Pinnock, who also serves as the director of MBK Houston, believes programs and services aimed at early child development can also strengthen communities.
“The campaign is really structured and predicated on the end game to ensure that our city has productive citizens that are contributing to the well-being of communities,” Pinnock said.
Houston Basics is founded on five evidence-based parenting principles of the Boston Basics, developed by Dr. Ronald Ferguson of Harvard University.
Since its launch, the campaign has touched over 25,000 residents with the message about parenting principles on which Houston Basics is founded. Pinnock believes the campaign’s ability to connect parents to resources they might not otherwise have access to can close education gaps.
“The huge part of all of this is not only increasing awareness, but also giving the parents tools they can leverage to improve their children’s readiness,” Pinnock said.
To engage the community with Houston Basics, MBK Houston and HHD have partnered with local nonprofits, school districts, early education centers and council members.
Council Member Karla Cisneros invested $30,000 in Council District Funds to help early childhood education providers in her district receive Texas Rising Star accreditation.
TRS is a voluntary, quality improvement system that allows providers to become certified as meeting higher quality standards than most other child care programs. Program participants receive professional development resources and mentoring to sustain and improve the quality of their early childhood program.
“My council office, the city’s Health Department and Collaborative for Children are working to improve the quality of local childcare providers in District H,” Cisneros said.
“Supporting the Texas Rising Star Program not only impacts the future success of children, it is an important cradle-to-career connection,” Cisneros said.
Along with supporting early education childcare providers, Houston Basics and community partners have provided Welcome Baby bags filled with information and resources to more than 800 families. The campaign has plans to launch a baby college program next fall and is partnering with the Children’s Museum of Houston to roll out its Train the Trainer program to teach early education practitioners how to incorporate the campaign’s parenting principles into their programs.
“We are trying to change the lives of youth and elevate the narrative that communities are only as successful and only as strong as the members who are in it,” Pinnock said.