What does early learning look like in Clarkston, Georgia, one of the most diverse communities in the country? For three months this past fall, students from the Emory Rollins School of Public Health conducted a community assessment of early learning and childcare needs of refugee families. The students set out to learn about the process of conducting a community assessment and to gain experience preparing and presenting a report to a community group.
The purpose of the study was to examine the early learning and child care needs and wishes of families with children birth through 3 years and to create a template for a Clarkston Early Learning Asset Map, one of the projects of the Clarkston Early Learning Network (CELN). The students proposed to share the findings with families and partners to assist with the development of new, or to support, existing programs, promote partners’ increased coordination and collaboration, and identify grants and other funding sources to support ideas and activities resulting from the report.
On December 14, at a CELN meeting hosted by CDF Action and the Clarkston Library, the students shared their process and presented their report and preliminary findings.
To prepare the report, students (a) conducted a literature review of early learning, with a focus on the benefits of dual language learning and child care perspectives of refugee parents, (b) conducted a “windshield” community survey, (c) created a community asset map, using the new ATL Access Map, (d) conducted key informant interviews, and (e) conducted focus groups with families.
The report found that many refugee families support dual language programs and many families use “informal” or family, friend, and neighbor care for their youngest children.
“Wishes” include more bi-lingual, culturally sensitive staff, nutritious meals and snacks, and extended hours for programs for 3 and 4 year olds. Some families talked about a co-op idea for infants and toddlers.
The report findings and recommendations will be reviewed at the January 24 meeting of CELN, 12:30 p.m., at the Clarkston Library.
CDF thanks the Emory students for a job well done: Jumanne Lee, Sarabeth Mathis, Stephanie Santana, Rajvi Shah, and Cameron Warner.