Since 1980, First3Years has been an active voice and advocate for babies across Texas. The organization’s mission is bolstered by science: 80% of brain development happens by the time a child turns just three years old.
First3Years is focused on making those very first years of a baby’s life developmentally strong, so that every child is given the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life.
First3Years’ wide variety of programming focuses on educating, advocating, and collaborating to advance the healthy development of infants and toddlers. The organization’s programs:
- Build awareness of the critical importance of the first three years of life.
- Enhance the quality of relationships between infants/toddlers and their caregivers.
- Advocate for policies and practices that support the healthy development of young children.
- Educate professionals in best practices.
With a strong presence in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi, First3Years brings its depth of early childhood research and expertise to a broad community of stakeholders and early education professionals. All of its trainings and program offerings are grounded in the latest research, released within the last 18 months.
First3Years has an ongoing interest in building and strengthening the early childcare workforce in Texas. The organization has demonstrated effectiveness in educating and influencing policymakers in this area. In 2012, First3Years played an instrumental role in the Texas Legislature raising standards for early childcare workers by:
- Increasing the pre-service training requirements for childcare licensing from 8 to 24 hours, and
- Increasing ongoing professional development training from 8 to 24 hours per year.
In another project, partnering with Early Childhood Intervention and HealthyStart, First3Years tackled a solution to high rates of depression and stress reported by professionals in early childhood settings. The partnership implemented a reflective supervision model in which early childhood professionals were supported through mentoring relationships that helped them process work-related conflicts and stress. Within nine months, the program showed that participating professionals were better able to recognize and manage their work-related stress, and were more confident in their ability to work within parent/child relationship. A stronger support structure from peers and directors helped infuse an organic feedback loop and communication outlet that benefited the teachers themselves, but also the programs as a whole.
First3Years is a respected voice in the ongoing conversation about how to build an effective, sustainable framework for supporting young children and caregivers in Texas.
Local Partnership: Raising of Fort Worth
In Fort Worth, First3Years has garnered significant community-wide support and engagement through its Raising of Fort Worthefforts, which promote a quality early education for every child beginning at birth.
The Miles Foundation and First3Years are embarking on their fourth year of partnering to host Raising of Fort Worth events, along with the collaboration and contributions from the Raising of Fort Worth planning committee, which includes:
- Camp Fire First Texas
- Child Care Associates
- Early Learning Alliance
- Lena Pope
- North Texas Community Foundation
- The Parenting Center
- Rainwater Charitable Foundation
The purpose and goals of the Raising of Fort Worth effort are:
- To convene a diverse community of stakeholders who believe that a strong beginning for our youngest children will help shape a brighter future for Fort Worth.
- To engage advocates from the business, civic, philanthropic, education, and health sectors who will champion local quality early childhood efforts and generate support from their respective communities.
- To support actionable steps for creating quality early development and education opportunities for every child in Fort Worth.
Since 2015, Raising of Fort Worth has hosted eleven events, with 150 to 200 non-traditional partners in attendance. Through intentional programming, Raising of Fort Worth has been successful in recruiting C-suite executives in business, health, philanthropy, education, and non-profit to become leaders of early childhood among their peers.
In 2017, Raising of Fort Worth hosted a “national tour” of cities to highlight communities across the country that are innovating and excelling in early childhood. Teams from Tulsa, OK, Denver, CO, and Rochester, NY were invited to share how they achieved their work in areas that align with Tarrant County’s key priorities.
In 2018, the focus of Raising of Fort Worth’s events will be to:
- Make the critical connection between social emotional development in the first five years as a key contributor to children’s attainment of key educational milestones (e.g., kindergarten readiness and 3rd grade reading).
- Highlight the role parents, professionals, and the community can play in ensuring young children and their families get the strong start they need to succeed in learning and in life.
- Connect the critical role of quality early childhood in building and supporting a thriving workforce.
- Explore tangible ideas and strategies for the business community to support families with young children.
- Promote quality early childhood education as a means to building and maintaining a strong economy.
First3Years has been a key leader in creating and executing strategies that have fostered a community of 200+ diverse stakeholders who are engaged and taking action on behalf of infants and toddlers in Tarrant County.
The Miles Foundation is a proud partner of First3Years, and looks forward to continued collaboration in our shared mission to ensure a quality early foundation for every child.