Chara Troutman and Camillia Burden have both been teaching at Frazer Center for about three years. Both are approaching 20 years of experience in early childhood education. Both are interested in helping other people and bettering their communities, and that’s why they both are now Family Ambassadors for Bright from the Start, Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
DECAL is an agency “responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families,” and it does this through several programs. One such program is CAPS, or Childcare and Parent Services, which assists “low income families with the cost of child care while they work, go to school or training, or participate in other work-related activities.”
Georgia is currently ranked 38th among the states in child well-being. Although this is a vast improvement from its 1990 ranking of 48th, many families still remain sorely unaware of the early education services they could be accessing. That’s why the DECAL Family Ambassador program was started.
Chara traveled to the UGA Tifton campus for training, and Camillia trained in Kennesaw. They learned all about the resources available to families through DECAL such as CAPS, nutritional services, and inclusion services for children with disabilities.
After training, each ambassador is required to participate in child enrichment events held at various locations throughout the state. The vision is to see how an influx of information in communities across the state impacts the number of families making use of DECAL resources over the next six months. Then the agency will regroup and decide how best to move forward.
Chara’s event was at the Scott Candler Library. She shared information with many families, steering them toward resources such as the CAPS application, and the CDC milestone tracker app that helps parents know what markers to look for in their child’s progress so early intervention can happen if a developmental delay is discovered.
“The goal is to help parents be proactive,” says Chara. As a single mother of three, she knows that “the last thing you want to worry about is the care your child is getting.”
Camillia is looking forward to her first event, but she and Chara have shared educational resources with Frazer’s administrative team. For instance, flyers have been made available to teachers and parents about the benefits of reading aloud every day to babies from birth to twelve months.
Thanks to all the family ambassadors, 1662 families in 40 cities and towns throughout Georgia have been contacted, according to DECAL. Hopefully all that goodwill transforms into a brighter start for all of Georgia’s children.
Georgia Dept of Early Care and Learning: Bright from the Start: http://decal.ga.gov/
CDC Milestone Tracker App: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html