By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Young parents in Lee County are invited to attend one of three meetings next week designed to introduce them to a program that aims to provide better community support for children from birth to age 5.
Lee County’s Excel By 5 coalition will host the meetings as part of its effort to earn certification in the program. Excel By 5 is a Mississippi program that outlines a series of steps participating communities must take to support their youngest children. Those who meet the criteria are certified as being early childhood-friendly communities.
Next week’s meetings will be held at three schools: Monday at Saltillo Primary, Tuesday at Verona Elementary and Thursday at Milam Elementary. Each meeting will begin a 6 p.m. and last for about an hour, and refreshments will be served.
The meetings are most geared toward young parents to introduce them to Excel By 5, tell them about available services and gather their input. Interested community members, educators, child care providers and those who want to learn more about Excel By 5 and support the effort also are invited.
“We want to make them aware of what we are trying to do, and we want them to participate with us,” said Beverly Williams, certification manager for Lee County Excel By 5. “That will be one of the keys in reaching as many young kids as possible.”
The group has been conducting surveys of parents, health care providers and child care providers about needs for children under age 5. It will review those results during next week’s meetings and seek additional input. Members also will outline action plans for addressing the various issues.
The presentation will address why a child’s early years are so important to his or her development and activities for parents to foster that.
Williams said child care won’t be provided, but children are welcome.