Children and youth get a strong start and have a solid foundation for success in school, work and life.
The first 2,000 days of a child’s life are truly foundational. By age three, 85% of your brain’s framework is built—at Greater Gallatin United Way, we believe every child deserves nurturing care and support during this crucial time.
Gallatin Early Childhood Community Council (ECCC) is a collaborative effort of 130 individuals and over 60 community organizations — parents, child care workers, policy makers, civic leaders, and experts—under the roof of Greater Gallatin United Way to promote thriving, healthy children.
Greater Gallatin United Way is committed to support the infrastructure of collective impact across Gallatin County. In an effort to create long-term systemic change, we have remained the backbone organization for ECCC for over 26 years, providing:
- vision + strategy
- platform to aligned activities
- establish shared measurement practices
- build public will
- advance policy
- mobilize funding
The council meets 1-2 times a month to host community events, coordinate training and support for early child educators, provide education and advocacy for parents, and educate the community on the importance of healthy development of children.
ECCC members take the data we’ve collected as a group to inform their individual organizations--leveraging each other’s work to feed common goals. We believe that to ensure every child has access to a supportive community; every adult is responsible to make that happen.
Why early childhood matters
- Our earliest days, weeks and months of life are a period of unparalleled growth when trillions of brain cell connections are made (Zero to Three).
- Health and development are directly influenced by the quality of care and experiences a child has with his parents and other adults (Zero to Three).
- The connection between early life experiences and the health of a nation underscores the importance of strategic investments in the care and protection of pregnant women, infants, and young children, and it suggests that most current attempts to prevent adult disease and create a healthier workforce may be starting too late (Harvard Center for the Developing Child).
- Children’s health is a nation’s wealth, as a sound body and mind enhance the capacity of children to develop a wide range of competencies that are necessary to become contributing members of a successful society (Harvard).
- One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade does not graduate from high school on time
- Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor
History of ECCC
In response to many children not entering school ready to learn, GGUW convened Success By 6, a collaboration of multi-sector partners including, MSU Dept of Education, THRIVE, MSU Early Childhood, Community Health Partners, Gallatin City/County Health Department, area school districts, Child Care Connections and other organizations. The focus was on forming a framework for planning and implementing future work to support a “whole child” approach to education, focusing on both cognitive skills and the child’s social and emotional development.
In 2010, as part of community early childhood discussions, a joint grant application was submitted to MT Department of Public Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS) Early Childhood Services Bureau with GGUW as the lead agency. Our community was one of seven in the state to receive Best Beginnings grant for $135,000 over a two-year period to conduct a comprehensive assessment of early childhood services in our region in order to identify assets and gaps and discover methods for connecting with system users – the parents. At the same time MT DPHHS Public Health Bureau was awarded a grant to conduct similar work. The state then combined the two funds. The Best Beginnings Coordinator began working closely with the Gallatin County/City Health Department to develop a work plan for collecting and analyzing the data. Strategic planning meetings were held with over 30 community partners working together to advance the project. GGUW's Executive Director, Carol Townsend, was appointed to the Governor’s Best Beginnings Council. In 2013, a comprehensive needs assessment was delivered to the community. 2013 Early Childhood Community Needs Assessment
GGUW continued to act as the lead agency and fiscal agent for the coalition, now named Early Childhood Community Council (ECCC). In 2014, a MT Compact VISTA employed by ECCC completed a health and human resource guide for the community, 2014 Community Resource Guide, as part of the councils work. The community-wide coalition continues to promote thriving children from birth through age eight. ECCC provides leadership to community partners with the goal of creating an efficient, effective and comprehensive system of early childhood services in the Greater Gallatin area to ensure that every child has a healthy and enriched beginning.
ASMSU Child Care Center, A.W.A.R.E. Inc., Belgrade Community Library, Belgrade Public Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Gallatin County, Bozeman Public Library, Bozeman Public Schools, Child Care Connections, Child Development Center, Children’s Museum of Bozeman, City of Bozeman Recreation Department, Community Health Partners (Gallatin & Park Counties), Family Promise, Family Outreach, Gallatin City-County Health Department, Gallatin Mental Health Center, Gallatin Valley Food Bank, Gallatin Valley YMCA, Greater Gallatin United Way, HRDC Head Start, Livingston Public Schools, Montana Team Nutrition, Montana State University Child Development Center, Montana State University College of Education, Health & Human Development, Montana State University Early Childhood Project, Museum of the Rockies, Park County Community Foundation, Thrive and Youth Dynamics.