Board of Advisors - September 5, 2017

When community leaders from Central Florida gathered Friday at the Heart of Florida United Way, the question on everyone's mind was: "How can we ensure that our elected officials know that investing in early childhood development is what our community needs?"

Members of The Children's Movement's regional Board of Advisors offered suggestions and outlined a plan to move the community forward toward The Movement's "2020 Goals," which they agreed would be beneficial to the state and the Orlando area. Those goals include ensuring that every child has access to health care and high-quality early education, as well as providing all families with parental skill-building resources.

The conversation quickly turned to how board members could help bring about increased investment in early childhood development. They agreed that engaging elected officials was important, as well as reaching out to 2018 political candidates.

A plan was developed that included hosting events open to the public, media, community leaders, candidates and the local legislative delegation during strategic times before, during, and after the 2018 legislative session, which begins in January. The board also discussed bringing some key community and business leaders to Tallahassee to make sure that Orlando's legislative representatives are aware of the need.

"As champions for kids, it's important that we build our plan," said Movement CEO Vance Aloupis, who attended the meeting. "This is an issue that is going to be won by the business community."

Board members emphasized the need to approach sometimes-skeptical legislators with facts and figures about the impact and success of early childhood programs. "Non-profits are usually all rainbows and butterflies; we need numbers," said Adrianna Sekula, manager of government relations for Walt Disney Parks and Resort U.S.

The board also favored looking for other influential community members who are interested in early education. But most importantly, the board seeks leaders who have a desire to communicate with legislators, who hold the state's purse strings on those issues.

"I'm here because it's the right thing to do," remarked board member Joe Durso, the mayor of the city of Longwood.

We are planning to hold another board meeting before the year ends.

Gerrit Van Lent
Outreach and Engagement Coordinator-Central Florida
cell: 305-393-3465