The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County has invested in children and families for 30 years. The mission of ensuring children are healthy, developmentally on track, ready to learn, and are in supported and supportive environments has been the cornerstone of its purpose in our community. This year, the Children’s Board will invest over $30 million in local non-profits that work diligently to meet the needs of the children and families in Hillsborough County.
More than 190,000 children and families received services from Children’s Board-funded agencies last year. Forty thousand visitors held meetings and conferences at no cost to the community in the Children’s Board’s Ybor City Administrative Building, and six Children’s Board Family Resource Centers operated around the county to meet the needs of children and families in their neighborhoods and community.
The Children’s Board recognizes the vast geography and diverse culture of Hillsborough County. In an effort to meet those needs, the Children’s Board held town hall meetings in six areas of the county in 2015. Demographic shifts in population(s) were analyzed and data evaluations conducted in an effort to support individualized programs that meet the needs of specific areas. As a result of these town hall meetings, Mobile Swim Lessons were developed to keep children safe from drowning, community partnerships were formed to combat the drowning numbers head on and, at the close of last year, drowning deaths decreased by 50 percent.
All six areas of the county indicated the need for high quality summer programming for children. The parents were surveyed to define quality. As a result, content experts developed program curriculum to include literacy, STEM, art, character education, safety and teamwork through sports. Each program had enough autonomy to appeal to the diverse cultural appetite of children across the county. The cross-cultural nature of these programs ran the gamut from lessons in Mandarin to dance instruction from the Tampa Ballet. This project was a joint effort of the Children’s Board and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and will return by popular demand.
South County indicated the need for expanded capacity in high quality early learning opportunities for children. The Children’s Board contracted with Enterprising Latinas to expand capacity within the system. Today more than 20 individuals are pursuing their licensure to open high quality Early Learning Childcare homes in South County.
Early Learning providers from across Hillsborough County were surveyed to identify barriers to quality in the system. Discipline in the classroom and parental involvement came up as the top three barriers. The Children’s Board is bringing the concept of “Conscious Discipline” to the Early Learning Community through a partnership led by Hillsborough Community College with the CALM program, Conscious Awareness Learning Model.
The three leading causes of child death in Hillsborough County are unsafe sleep, drowning and abusive head trauma. The Children’s Board, in partnership with the Department of Children and Families and Eckerd Community Alternatives, launched a public awareness campaign to end child death from the three leading causes in Hillsborough County. Check out the link www.preventneedlessdeaths.com. Help us as a community to keep all of our children safe.
As you can see, it takes everyone’s efforts to make Hillsborough County the very best place in America to raise children. It takes you and our partners in the community to make a true difference in the life of a child. The results of this dynamic, coordinated community response to supporting children and families produced the following outcome measures from 23,063 program participants evaluated over a 12-month cycle:
Children are Healthy:
95% of pregnant women attended Prenatal Care visits
89% of babies were born at healthy birth weights
85% of mothers initiated breastfeeding
92% of children attended well baby/well child visits
Children are Developmentally on Track and Ready to Learn:
90% of children had improved Social-Emotional Competence
88% of children with hearing/vision concerns were linked with medical assessments
90% of children demonstrated improved school readiness skills
89% of children were read to at least 4 times a week at home
Children are in Supportive and Supported Environments:
91% of parents experienced increase social supports
88% of families indicated improved well-being
90% of parents were involved in their child’s education or school
93% of parents increased their literacy skills