August 7, 2014 Early Learning Community Trust Notes

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Notes from the August 2014 CDF Early Learning Community Trust Meeting are found below.  These are the unedited notes that were recorded in the facilitated small groups with only minor formatting edits.


Notes from August 7, 2014 Clarkston Families Decide Early Learning Community Trust

Group 1.  Arabic and Somali

Opening Question: Who helped you learn?

  • Mother: Arabic/English dictionary
  • Afterschool program
  • Government programs helped with language
  • Older siblings
  • Both parents: mother and father
  • Language school in Europe


Importance of Language

  • Understanding of home language for better communication
  • Consider “odd” the children who do not speak home language
  • Learn early in both languages to communicate in both communities (Somali, American)
  • Open doors for them to be bilingual
  • Support of children learning both languages
  • Harder communication barriers with children
  • Teachers need to communicate in home language
  • Better home/school communication
  • Vacation back home, children cannot understand home language

Early Care and Education Centers

  • Curriculum translated in home language
  • Somalian center (focus center) for all Somali

Access to Health

  • Will this program go to age 18 and beyond?
  • Not a popular issue

Community-Based Early Learning

  • Community Center having tutors

Support Home-Based Caregivers

  • Keep culture together 

Closing Reflection: What have you learned?

  • The community cares
  • Different ways to access health
  • Match our needs with help; recognize that we need support


Group 2. Arabic

Opening Discussion

  • Parents, family members, school helped us learn when we were young


Home Language

  • It is important to speak Arabic in order to communicate with family and friends
  • English and home language are taught

Access to Healthcare

  • Teachers and healthcare workers discuss and work on conflict with children

Community Based/Home Learning

  • Help with access to healthcare and home language (combines goals)


Group 3. Burmese

Opening Discussion

  • Parents guided me (looked over school work); helped me to memorize ABC’s
  • Made us attend afterschool tutorials
  • Parents guided me on how to respect my elders
  • Parents told me about my culture
  • Parents put me on a schedule 


Early Care and Education Centers

  • Teaching basic movements.  Ex: raising hands
  • We can teach our culture manners at home
  • Teach children about other cultures. I.e.: wearing veils, show different culture movies
  • Wear uniforms
  • Supply school supplies by childcare centers

Home Language

  • Students miss graduation because of lack of clear communication
  • Use high school students to post flyers/information for interpreters
  • Children should be taught their original language
  • Original language is important for children
  • As first generation, parents need their children to speak their original language
  • In order to communicate with teachers and parents, government should hire more interpreters in schools to help prepare the students
  • Sometimes students don’t tell the parents what was told to them at school: more interpreters would help with communication

Access to Health

  • Parents don’t always get information about Medicaid being out and they don’t have cash to pay when they go to the clinic—that’s why treatment is low
  • Have nurse at school
  • More teaching on hand washing and having supplies available for washing hands

Community-Based Informal Programs

  • Government should support education (provide interpreters) in apartment complexes
  • Parents should be taught in apartment complexes at least one or two hours a day
  • If the parents don’t know anything, they can’t help the children to grow
  • The students should be taught afterschool at least 2 hours a day in apartment complexes: the government should provide interpreters to help with afterschool programs.  This will improve the Clarkston high schools and middle schools
  • Include elementary school in afterschool in apartments
  • This will help with children saying they don’t have homework when they do

Support for Caregivers

  • Families should be supported with basic information and material for basic learning at home
  • Provide audio, booklets with pictures (children learn by vision)


Group 4. Nepali (14 participants, 3 interpreters)


Early Care and Education Centers

  • Starting early helps: start learning now, success later
  • Prevents isolation and loneliness—helps our children make friends
  • Analogy of building a home: build on a good and strong foundation
  • Our children become better communicators, better at expressing their feelings
  • They become smart and develop good habits
  • They can be better citizens who don’t need interpreters!
  • Start reading when they are very young
  • Learn English and Nepali!

Awareness of the Importance of Language

  • So important!
  • Important because of religion
  • Important for transmission of culture
  • Both languages are important
  • Knowing more languages broadens your horizons
  • Children can be interpreters in our families
  • Being able to speak with parents, grandparents
  • Languages open doors to meet new people, to speak with everyone, make other friends
  • Children will get a better job, will help their résumés when they grow up
  • For culture, religion, family
  • Better communication within family (elders!), with teachers, and in community
  • “Language is our identity”

Access to Health

  • We need to keep our children healthy
  • Nutrition, eating healthily
  • Good medication when we’re sick
  • Quality of life
  • To have Medicaid, insurance—this is our #1!
  • Pre-natal care, reproductive health, family planning
  • Hygiene
  • Transportation to the doctor, interpretation when we’re there

Community-Based Informal Early Learning Programs

  • Need more education
  • Want home-based childcare
  • Limited number of centers—no more waiting lists!
  • Learning our culture, our language
  • Need more Parents as Teachers
  • Would make transportation easier
  • Food is also important—our children are used to eating our types of food, not American food yet
  • Building on community’s knowledge: in the community, we can learn from each other
  • More affordable for low-income

Support for Clarkston’s Caregivers

  • Caregivers need education
  • Need for first aid, safety training
  • Want breastfeeding information, nutrition facts
  • Need for lots of training
  • More playgrounds, parks in apartments
  • More meeting together, a chance for caregivers to take a break
  • Need to know the rules and regulations – know the law of the county, not get fines
  • Training to decrease physical punishments in homes
  • More outdoor activities
  • Caregivers who know our culture


  • Engagement: Importance of language and community-based childcare with Nepali
  • Impact: Language makes a big difference
  • Feasible: Community-based programs
  • Language: Community-based programs

What We Liked/Learned

  • Liked talking about childhood
  • Liked the meeting topics
  • “My own problems were sorted out”
  • “I was invited to build community, and that is what we did”
  • These topics are important
  • Meeting friends
  • “I am here to build community”
  • “We got the chance to share what matters to our community”
  • “We discussed so many things, and many of them were sorted out”


Group 5. Amharic and Dinka


Early Care and Education Centers

  • Teaching kids numbers, languages, art
  • Clarkston families will lead it
  • Afterschool

Awareness/Importance of Home Language

  • Kids, teachers, parents, library, culture centers
  • Importance of English

Access to Health

  • Enough nurses/first aid
  • Food: nutrition
  • Transportation to facilities
  • Language/interpretation

Community-Based Early Learning Programs

  • Needing space: students teach?
  • Parents teach: who will pay?

Supporting Clarkston’s Caregivers

  • To get formal license
  • Provide training
  • “American” protocols need to be followed
  • Safety
  • Toys/space

Closing Reflection

  • Possible improvement: learned of possibilities with early childhood
  • Improve time: be on time
  • Like childcare food
  • Need more advertising
  • Include all cultures


Group 6.  English

Opening Question

  • Parents: reading, playing, interaction
  • Instilled importance of education
  • Also siblings
  • Teachers at school


Early Care Centers

  • Ability to have programs that offer multi-cultural/language learning
  • Integrate multicultural language/care programs to reduce cliques and resource competition
  • Utilizing parent educators
  • Maintaining across-the-board standards to ensure equal opportunity

Impact of Early Care Programs

  • Well-informed parents à responsible, educated, and socially-aware children
  • Children would be able to adapt well to preschool/Kindergarten
  • Parents would become educational partners
  • Increases creativity

Importance of Language (Home Language)

  • The earlier the better
  • Cognitive benefits
  • Allows more open communication

Access to Health

  • Impact: less of an impact than language learning
  • Strive to tie in language learning as preventative care for children/adults

Community-Based Informal Early Learning Programs

  • Important, but standards and accountability must be ensured to produce positive results
  • Overlap; full daycare centers might already provide care

Support for Clarkston’s Caregivers

  • Would increase multicultural interactions which would lead to a stronger community
  • Could be streamlined
  • Complement resources already available


Group 7. English


Access to Health

  • Add health services to mothers
  • Also add basic health services

Community-Based Informal Early Learning Programs

  • Educational community events and making sure people are aware of them
  • Educate at Dunbar Elementary; use it as role-model because they do much of this work

Criteria: Themes 1 and 4 are very similar.  The following pertains to both.

  • Training family members to work in centers could have big impact and be powerful.
  • Also is financially sustainable
  • Helps families become professional and builds capacity
  • #4 (community-based informal early learning programs) helps build community relationships beyond just the project
  • #3 (health) is very important, but there are many programs out there targeting it
  • #4 would help us identify all the skills and talents that are already present in the community and put them to work/use; provide space!
  • Early learning schools fill up quickly, and many parents cannot afford even subsidized fees, so #4 is crucial
  • #4 – interest in co-ops with parents of kids of similar ages
  • #1 and 5 – licensing people who have skills but are just lacking the proper credentials
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