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Notes from the July 2014 meeting of the 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 July 12, 2014 Clarkston Families Decide Early Learning Community Trust

Group 2. Arabic

Opening Question: Why are you attending today?

  • Looking for a place for a child
  • Looking for a job  – four people
  • Wanting to build community
  • Want to learn about what is happening in community
  • Concerns about Clarkston schools
  • Share resources/information
  • Wanting to connect with others
  • Find child care
  • Learn about opportunities for children


Defining Early Learning:  What’s important for kids?  For families?

  • Babies need clean conditions, good sanitation, safety
  • There are hygiene problems with centers
  • Trustworthy child care (to be able to work)
  • Quality childcare with structure and learning
  • Attentive childcare workers
  • Need to feel safe leaving baby
  • Babies learning English and social skills, English AND native language
  • Want Arabic at school (for better communication between parents and their children).
  • Language is SO important – for relationships, religion, community
  • Language tied with religious education


  • Awareness that development is different for every child
  • The impact conflict has on child’s health
  • Nutrition
  • Good doctors
  • Need for information about iron deficiency
  • WIC and PediaSure – need milk, vitamins
  • Clean facilities related to health
  • Hygiene awareness – health regulations enforced
  • Mental health very important
  • Development by learning stories, seeing pictures
  • Importance of physical touch

Importance of Home and Native Language

  • With religion, so important
  • Communication between parents and children
  • Parent-child relationships
  • For maintaining ties to extended family
  • Increased future opportunities if they know Arabic

Community, and early learning places and activities

  • Open more day cares
  • More day cares = more jobs and better education
  • Parents can become teachers

Informal caregivers

  • Need to be monitored
  • Need good communication
  • (Parents) want to be certified to do this work
  • (Can) support Arabic learning, community, and economy
  • Have English AND native language teachers

Literacy and Language

  • In education, no written Arabic materials
  • Need language groups at libraries, at pharmacy

Group 3. Nepali

Opening Question: Why is Early Learning Important?

  • Through PAT we can identify challenges and learn good ways to help children grow
  • Can watch and make sure progress is being made (age appropriate)
  • Physical, social, and mental development
  • To prepare child for life
  • For a better life and not as much struggle
  • Starting early, makes it easier in the future
  • If the foundation is strong, the home is strong
  • It helps children be ready for school
  • Education is important to make child’s life better
  • How can I best teach my child if I do not know English? (language barriers)




  • Medicaid (how to pay for services)
  • Transportation
  • Language barriers – when calling to make appointment, hard to do so
  • Language line is not available everywhere
  • Physical interpreter is needed
  • Hard to communicate through phone
  • Must use mix of Nepali and English – Face to Face
  • Can’t see the problem the patient is trying to communicate; may not know the words to explain
  • Lack of money to buy toys or exercise type of equipment
  • Education for parents about how to teach children about health

Home Language

  • Child play and multi-language play environments – how to play in context of so many languages
  • Role of home language development in family-communications with elders and family

Community early learning activities

  • More places and activities to take children to
  • Want public play area near library for children

Informal Caregivers/family child care homes

  • Training for home based child care – qualifications are too high for less educated (need high school or GED)


  • Nepali language classes for children (need person)

Barriers to Access Early Learning Programs

  • Lack of interest
  • Lack of knowledge of importance on ear0ly learning
  • Not from culture or history that puts high importance of parental involvement
  • Lack of time

Community and Family Engagement

  • Don’t understand why they are important

Group 4. English



  • Eye, dental, and health care of children – knowledge is key!
  • What knowledge is needed?
  • Medical professionals available within learning environments
  • Database for available resources (e.g., developmental milestones)
  • Training/information for non-native English speaking parents
  • Empower our interpreter community to facilitate
  • Community health fairs
  • RFS Parents as Teachers – local resources that address above needs; works within home

Early Learning Places and Activities

  • Does the Clarkston community have a sufficient number of early learning places and activities?
  • No, there is a need for additional child care centers.  Current programs have long wait lists; additional in home day home/home school could be beneficial.
  • Early Learning workshops could provide parents and families with education of pertinent topics, group connections, as well as relationship building opportunities
  • Provide support (facilities, financial, volunteers) for existing programs

Community and Family Engagement

  • How do we engage our community?
  • Daycares, home day care providers form partnerships that are focused on common goals
  • Offer pre-services for a sliding fee/or matching funds incentives
  • How do we create an awareness of the needs of the Clarkston early learning community?
  • Create forums or venues for collaboration
  • Get to know the culture and diversity of our Clarkston families, neighbors, and residents
  • Share the stories and successes of Clarkston with local, state, and federal communities


Group 5. English

Opening Questions: What do we want for babies and families? What is our Vision?

  • Multiple languages
  • Working together (community, family, children)
  • Children teach each other
  • Outdoor time
  • Expand  understanding of cultural values and practices
  • Must be a two-way dialogue (between teachers and families)
  • Teachers aware (of culture/values)
  • Early Learning places should be reflective
  • Safety – but not too much!
  • Play should be beauty
  • Reggio – learning is not all structure
  • So what is beauty and who decides?
  • Equal access for those with special needs
  • ALL Clarkston children
  • Trust
  • Children learning home language



  • First three years are critical
  • Cultures use incense – religious purposes – but not good for children
  • Kids here want processed food
  • No supermarket in Clarkston
  • More families doing their own gardens
  • Transportation
  • Issue of toxic stress – multiple levels – Jack Shonkoff

 Home or Native Language

  • Literacy – language in home language important
  • Are children from an area where girls are not allowed to have education?
  • (Need) translators in early learning centers
  • Need more parents interacting and reading to their children in all languages
  • (Parents/others) are not clear about the importance of children learning in home/native language; there is research yet not common knowledge

Places for families to socialize with other families with young children; home visitors

  • It takes a village
  • Not enough places (for families to go) – churches, Clarkston Community Center
  • No rec center; no YWCA
  • Kids are isolated – limited language exposure
  • (Often) lack of supervision
  • Not learning from each other
  • Need to connect
  • (Families and children) need to get out of the house
  • Library needs more programs (resources)
  • Neighborhoods are different now
  • Ideas like co-ops
  • Parents work different shifts

Informal Caregivers

  • Need more conversations/information about informal caregivers (family, friends and neighbors) – student project?  (Where are kids during the day? Who are they with?)
  • Mothers’ morning out?
  • Limited opportunities for families/relatives taking care of kids to get together
  • May be afraid of training/workshops/fear of the unknown.

Literacy and Language

  • Doesn’t have to be just oral – can be pictures
  • Every language doesn’t have rhymes
  • Exposure to books IS important
  • Books in (family) language
  • Need to identify and train individuals from all the cultures to be educators/teachers

Resources for Early Learning Programs

  • Want parents to come to programs but lack of interpreters
  • More partnership with Georgia Piedmont Technical College
  • More classes for parents
  • Centers need access to resources that exist
  • Pay is terrible in the field
  • Help for centers to meet licensing (standards) and best practices

Parent Access/Barriers

  • Lack of knowledge of early learning resources
  • Very limited CAPS (child care subsidies) funds

Community and Family Engagement

  • Early learning programs/schools are (often) frightened of parents
  • Parents don’t realize they have the power
  • Parents are intimidated
  • Child care centers and schools should tell parents their rights (IEP)


Group 6. Arabic

Facilitator: Samia; Note taker: Andy; Interpreter: Rashid

Opening Discussion: Defining Early Learning

  • Acquiring English Language skills
  • Enrollment into schools – needs strong foundation – youth to choosing a college major
  • Desire to be bilingual – how to communicate with teachers
  • Afterschool programs – (need to be) culturally sensitive
  • Tutoring (within apartments – due to lack of transportation)
  • Women empowerment via communication
  • Re:  school involvement



  • Information when children get hurt in school
  • Need to address health issues in schools, birth to age 8
  • Comparatively, other countries address kids health concerns at a faster rate


  • Need more info and resources to supplement education (i.e., cannot complete homework)
  • Trouble enrolling children in preschool (when to enroll, how, spaces, etc.)

Informal caregivers

  • Cultural sensitive caregiving
  • Caregivers wish to be paid for their services so they can financially support their families
  • Safety
  • Trust
  • Women’s Resource Center to empower women to help enroll children in preschool, school, and afterschool programs, and improve quality of life

Language and Literacy

  • Proper translation services (filling out forms)
  • Better communications between parents and teachers
  • Afterschool programs (early learning programs) that foster home language and culture as well as English
  • Recording stories from refugee populations to have the stories preserved
  • Transportation
  • Afterschool  programs (early learning programs)  within community that will allow women to be affirmed that their children are receiving proper academic support, unlike in their schools that aren’t culturally sensitive
  • Daycare located in the community, where people can come together  – a centralized location which is accessible

Families Accessing Care

  • Foster/support a child’s special talents and teach kids
  • Working more hours may decrease Medicaid/care benefits. This is compounded by the fear that their children might not receive proper afterschool (early learning) care; children’s parents are working overtime to earn extra wages – fear loss of Medicaid.

Other issues

  • Holidays – excused absences (work/school) due to cultural holiday
  • Teach all the holidays
  • Apartment conditions
    • Unsafe conditions on the playgrounds
    • Parents are fined $10 if they allow children to play (Clarkston Oaks)
    • DMV interpretation to learn how to drive


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