May 17, 2013

Who participated? The March 6th forum was hosted by the CIC and Chair Jeff Cogen’s Office. It focused on proposed state and county changes that will affect early childhood and healthcare programs. Over 75 people attended the forum, approximately 60 people later viewed it online, and even more saw it during 11 broadcasts on public access television. During the first part, five presenters described proposed program changes. Attendees then gave input about what they valued about the programs as well as concerns they had about the changes. The input was generated by attendees writing responses to seven questions posted on the walls. People could also take an online survey and respond to the same questions in English or Spanish.

Overview of reults: The forum questions generated 109 live and online comments. Overall, the comments for both topics varied widely. Common comments were grouped together and are described below. We encourage you to review the two-page report to see the questions and a wider breadth of comments made by participants.

Common comments: With regard to the proposed changes to early childhood programs, respondents feel the services most needed in their communities are greater parental education, more resources dedicated to early literacy programs and Head Start, and increased childcare. They believe the biggest barriers to accessing the programs are parents not having the resources to pay or the knowledge about them, due in part to a lack of program coordination. Additionally, several respondents feel early childhood programs are not culturally appropriate, which has also fostered a lack of trust within the Spanish speaking community. Respondents are most excited that changes in early childhood programs will create increased opportunities for early screening related to learning issues. Concerning healthcare, the change nearly half the respondents most desire is affordable universal healthcare that is accessible to all. Without this, respondents fear that people without healthcare are more likely to be sick and experience bankruptcy and other financial burdens.

Learn more about the forum and watch it.