Name of Initiative: Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance
Region served: The following counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren and the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation.
Population served: The following counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren and the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation.
About The Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance:
Mission: Create a regional structure to design promote and amplify strategies that support a comprehensive and sustainable child development system
Vision: The vision of the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance at Adirondack Foundation (BT3) is that all young children are healthy, learning, and thriving in families who are supported by a full complement of services and resources essential for success in school and life.
Name: Connie Prickett, Vice President of Communications & Strategic Initiatives Vice President of Communications & Strategic Initiatives
The work of the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance (BT3) is rooted in intimate knowledge of the rural communities in their region and strong relationships with local partners who come together to ensure all children receive the best possible start in life. This program is hosted by Adirondack Foundation, a community foundation that enhances the lives of people in the Adirondacks through philanthropy, and was established to improve coordination and collaboration between agencies and between counties. This is especially important because rural communities are isolated from one another – and different childhood development sectors can sometimes operate in silos. Indeed, collaboration with regional partners is foundational to this work – whether with Women Infants and Children (WIC) and home visiting programs in different counties or Healthy Steps and pediatricians. This kind of grassroots work means that people know who to go to for what and services for families are strengthened.
The Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance also brings rural regions to the statewide table. More and more partners look to them to get a pulse of what is happening more broadly. With thanks to a state-level partnership, for instance, the Alliance has connected with parents through a regional Home Visiting Parent Council. In doing so, one of the Alliance’s greatest strengths is helping to amplify many voices. And the voices of parents from the Adirondack region are part of much larger conversations and initiatives.
While engaging in this work at the local level is powerful and necessary, it too presents barriers that are all too common in early childhood development – challenges that are systemic and require long term, multi-layered solutions. Child care and poverty, for example, cannot be solved at the local level. New York State must acknowledge and account for regional differences in barriers and limitations to services and local counties need to increase their capacity to think and act more regionally than they traditionally do.
Equity and access drive their work. Alliance partners are service providers for families who are facing financial, educational, and/or health challenges due to low wages or poverty. Many families are historically under-resourced and do not have access to services like child care or mental health counseling. Approaching issues through the lens of class, the Alliance is particularly focused on helping families who are in great need – working with partners to ensure that families in DSS and other programs are not falling through the cracks. Over 90% of the families are white in the Adirondack region; issues of equity and access tend to be socioeconomic.
A benefit of being hosted by a community foundation is that the Alliance has other tools in its tool kit. ”Small Grants for Small Children,” for instance provides grant support to child care providers for a variety of needs – from educational resources to equipment to professional training. This fund ramped up during the height of the pandemic – making roughly 90 grants in a single year, which was a four-fold increase compared to 2019. With so many home-based providers, this fund was able to provide an immediate response while they waited for federal funding.
BT3 has adapted its work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to be responsive to the shifting needs of families in their communities. Child care is getting more attention than ever before, which is opening cross-sector collaboration opportunities with business partners, workforce development organizations, Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCRRs), and other community members. The relationship between economic growth and access to child care has quickly become an everyday topic of discussion. While many would say these are not new issues, the Alliance has been helping its partners mobilize around emerging opportunities stemming from infusions of federal funds. Through Stand Up for Child Care Adirondacks – a cross-sector coalition – this group is gaining more traction as it brings attention to child care and economic issues and advocates for counties to prioritize children and families in their expenditures of American Rescue Plan Act funds. They are also bringing attention to the lack of infrastructure and resources needed to reverse alarming trends of lost child care slots. In a more populated area, for instance, shortages could be addressed by a few providers developing centers that could serve 100 children per center. In rural areas, it would require supporting at least a dozen family child care providers to serve 100 children. This is a critical consideration as federal funds filter down to communities in NY.
The Alliance is one of a dozen or so partners participating in the NYS Baby Bundles program. It is allowing them to continue to give out new parent kits across the region. In 2019-2020, they handed out more than 1,000 new parent kits and gained a lot of interest. Feedback indicates that the kits are reaching a critical demographic, with nearly 45% of recipients who completed an evaluation form reporting a household income of less than $50,000. Nearly all report that they were caring for a child or children under one year of age and a majority found the kits to be very helpful in increasing knowledge of parenting skills, child development, and confidence in responding to their child. The kits/bundles also help build trust between home visiting programs and the parents they serve. The Alliance will distributed nearly a 1,000 – thanks to the Baby Bundles program.
The Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance is also one of 10 grant recipients from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI). More than a competitive grant program, PCI is opening new doors for capacity building and networking. As a PCI grant recipient, the Alliance gains access to the Pritzker-funded National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT), which fosters connections across local, state and national programs focused on healthy beginnings, supported families, and high-quality child care and early learning. This prestigious grant award is an endorsement of the Alliance’s work in the Adirondacks.