Here are five powerful insights CTF Director Emily van Schenkhof has to offer:
1. It’s a good thing for Missouri kids!
Missouri’s early childhood governance has been weak—programs are spread across three state agencies, with limited strategic coordination. You may have experiences with state programs that have not lived up to their intent or potential. This move is designed to create a strong foundation for Missouri’s early childhood programs.
2. It won’t be easy.
Creating an efficient, effective and coordinated system will take time. There will be setbacks and decisions that may disappoint. Early childhood stakeholders will have to summon a great deal of patience while the new Office comes together – balancing accountability and expectations, extending grace.
3. It brings focus to the whole child.
Missouri can’t keep prioritizing educational outcomes at the expense of other outcomes. For child abuse prevention advocates, our focus is not third grade reading scores—it’s safe, stable and nurturing environments from day one. The Office has pledged, publicly and privately, that their perspective will be the whole child with equal focuses on health, safety and education.
4. It couldn’t have a better Director than Dr. Pam Thomas!
Pam is uniquely equipped to lead this new office. She has a long history in early childhood as the program administrator for the First Steps Program. Most importantly, Pam has the heart of a child advocate—she is driven by her passion for changing outcomes for kids and is not afraid of challenging the status quo.
5. It requires your voice.
Missouri’s early childhood programs will only be strong if stakeholders become more involved in informing policy in Missouri. Our state, and this new Office, is committed to weaving stakeholder feedback and engagement into the culture of the Office. CTF is ready to make sure these aspirations become a reality.
What is the Office of Childhood?
The new Office, which is set to go into effect on August 28, 2021, will consolidate Missouri’s primary early childhood programs and funding (Child Care, Home Visiting, and Pre-K).
DR. PAM THOMAS, FORMER PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR FOR FIRST STEPS, WAS NAMED DIRECTOR OF THE NEW OFFICE.