2020 is soon upon us. It just a little over 10 weeks to January! That’s right, January, not Thanksgiving, which is in 5 weeks. 2020 annual budgets are being finalized by many businesses and organizations. Looking forward may be slightly painful if my 2019 to-do list still has a lot of active items, which it does. The time is short to consider any systematic changes to impact this year. Change is inevitable and on-going. We live in motion every day, so changes continue and new opportunities are discovered that didn’t exist last year. We will always continue to look for opportunities to partner with other organizations, take bold steps, stretch our abilities and resources to impact under-resourced families.
A brand-new growth opportunity for us is in becoming a Diaper Bank. We are beginning to acquire a steady supply of diapers that will be added to our inventory. Our application to become a member of the National Diaper Bank has been submitted and we anticipate final approval very soon. Sunni Matters, our Director of Long-Term Initiatives, and Allison Snoddy, a community member filled with passion for the topic will both be attending the National Diaper Bank Conference this week in Cincinnati. Allison was a board member with another Diaper Bank located in Indiana before she and her family recently moved to Delaware County. We have asked for membership status as The Diaper Bank of East Central Indiana, which includes all of our 8-county service area. We see this relationship as one of many we are forming as we move forward with our new initiative that is focused on families with children aged 0-5.
We have always had some connection with families that have young children through The Big Idea, Forward STEPS and food distribution initiatives, but we are taking it to a new level with some specific partnerships, pilot programming and some new inventory identified for ages 0-5 children and family members. As we have learned through our engagements with 35 schools and counting in our 8-county service area, the vital achievement of 3rd grade reading level is greatly impacted from what happens with the child at age 0-3 years old. A little over 4 years ago our board and I agreed that we need to be more holistic in our approach to this work. To that end, we have moved forward with what is now Forward S.T.E.P.S. and The Big Idea, focused on relationship building with families that will help identify paths for progress aimed at a self-sustainable life, free of the need for social safety net services.
These initiatives have led the way toward our engagement with young families and new-borns to form relationships that have reading, learning and social development as fundamental milestones before the children engage in pre-school, kindergarten. We know that long-standing trailblazing efforts have been in place in several of our communities such as Born Learning, By5, Early Head-Start and Huffer Memorial just to name a few. We have been in conversations with some for well over a year and are finalizing partnership plans for at least one agency pilot program to roll out in January, 2020.
This long-view look at systemic and generational approaches to family engagement, development and self-sustainability fits well within our team structure to leverage the resources entrusted to us by all the communities we serve. The “Cradle to Career” concept that is championed at By5 is a great over-view for what some of the key elements are to affect change that is long lasting. In our 4th year of living into this holistic ideal, along with our relationship-based staff and logistical strength with community support we are positioned to be a partner organization, a leader or a champion for the long haul.
Tim Kean, President and CEO