Event highlights children’s needs


Staff Writer

Saturday, April 21, 2018

More than 100 school board members, business leaders and community stakeholders gathered Friday to celebrate the Week of the Young Child and learn more about the work of the Down East Partnership for Children. 

Jim Goodmon, chairman of the board of Capitol Broadcasting Co., was the keynote speaker at the luncheon that was held at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Raleigh Road. Goodmon was the first chairman of the board of the N.C. Partnership for Children and also was instrumental in starting the Smart Start initiative under former Gov. Jim Hunt.

Goodmon spoke passionately about the history of the state organization that spawned the Down East Partnership and 74 other similar partnerships in the state. Goodmon said he gained a great deal of understanding about the need for early childhood care and education as he undertook that project.

“There was an article that came out in 1997 that discussed brain development in children. This development has to occur in the early years — and if they don’t use it, they lose it. We have to get on this early because there is no making up for it later in the child’s life,” Goodmon said.

Goodmon said the idea behind the N.C. Partnership for Children was not to issue directives from the top down but to encourage communities to form local partnerships with inclusive boards and a broad base of local support in order to address the needs of children in their communities.

“We had to learn how to work on the right thing in the right way,” Goodmon said.

The Down East Partnership was one of the first local partnerships that began in North Carolina and is now embarking on its 25th year of service to the Twin Counties.

In 2017, the Down East Partnership for Children impacted 16,352 children from birth to age 8 in the Twin Counties through programs that address a number of early childhood issues such as child care, literacy, parent education, health and school readiness. According to Down East Partnership’s 2017 Community Impact Report, 821 children benefited from child care scholarships and N.C. pre-kindergarten programs through the Partnership, 738 early child care professionals participated in training sessions and 11,102 children benefited from parent education and support programs.

Deborah Lanham, research and development director for the Down East Partnership, said the need for support is especially important in the Twin Counties, where one-third of children live in poverty and 61 percent are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade, an important predictor of high school graduation and workplace success. 

To this end, Steve Felton, a financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial, issued a plea for financial support at the Week of the Young Child luncheon. He also announced a new fundraising initiative called the 25 Club.

“We are asking business and community members to commit to giving $25 a month or $300 a year to help support the programs at the Down East Partnership for Children,” Felton said. “We are tired of the negativity. This is something we can do to help change things here in the Twin Counties, and I know that people in this area will step up if they get really passionate about something. We need to step up and show that we care about our children.”

For more information about the Down East Partnership for Children or the new 25 Club, go to http://depc.org/