Last updated: September 02. 2013 3:47PM - 2162 Views
Kelly Gaskins Richmond County Daily Journal

Kelly Gaskins | Richmond County Daily JournalUsing the die cutter at the Resource Lending Library.
Kelly Gaskins | Richmond County Daily JournalUsing the die cutter at the Resource Lending Library.
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Educational resources for America’s youth have increased dramatically in the past decade. One of the biggest resources for Richmond County daycares, parents, and children is the Richmond County Partnership for Children.

According to the its website, The Richmond County Partnership for Children is a non-profit organization that, through Smart Start, distributes legislature-allocated funds in Richmond County and collaborates with local agencies to fund and promote programs designed to improve the health, education, and quality of life for children ages 0 to 5.

It offers resources such as quality enhancement grants, child care professional development, child care star enhancement, health programs, child care referrals, parental support and use of its Resource Lending Library.

Martha Vance Brown, executive director of the Richmond County Partnership for Children, said, “To be a small organization, we do a lot in this county. We try to ensure that children receive the best possible care.”

The partnership’s staff works endlessly to achieve their mission and with less and less money allotted each year, they somehow manage to provide more help.

“This past year our funding was decreased by 2.65 percent,” said Brown, “yet the average child care star rating in the county increased.”

Too busy to toot their own horn, the partnership is not widely known about outside the daycare and education fields. Resource and Professional Development Specialist for the Partnership, Brandi Covington said, “People come into our office all the time and say ‘We knew nothing about you.’”

Undeterred, partnership staff, such as Covington, continue to increase advocacy efforts for children. One of the most important aspects of this advocacy is the partnership’s involvement with local star-rated child care facilities.

“They have been very helpful in meeting our needs with grants and providing supplies for daily activities,” said Tangie Martin of Carla’s Country Day Care in Hamlet, just one of dozens of child care facilities aided by the partnership.

Ensuring the partnership is able to offer such help, Julie Bryant, Director of Finance for the Richmond County Partnership for Children, keeps due diligence on the partnership’s funds and the possibilities they offer.

Possibilities such as encouraging child care providers to enhance their education by offering education-based salary supplements, to giving in-service training which helps identify problem areas and then aiding to fix those areas through grants, to providing start-up assistance and Star Enhancement funds to facilities in need.

“What we do impacts the lives of children,” said Mamie LeGrand, Program Coordinator and Evaluator at the Richmond County Partnership for Children, who believes that no job is too small, unimportant, or “dry” when it comes to improving children’s lives.

The partnership’s staff is always aware that the help they provide to child care professionals helps create a higher quality environment that directly benefits many children in the county, a goal that captured Michell Kocan, a previous child care professional and current Child Care Avenues Administrator for the the Richmond County Partnership for Children. Understanding the needs out there and the limited resources available, the mission of the partnership has inspired many of its staff.

Another aspect of the partnership’s advocacy efforts includes its comprehensive Resource Lending Library, filled with resources geared to improve children’s motor skills, literacy, and development.

The Resource Lending Library is a treasure trove of fun, educational, and creative materials for educators and parents of young children. Art and music supplies, books, puppets, science and math kits, puzzles, die cuts, and board games are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the resources available at the library.

Sylvia Knotts, Library and Project Coordinator at the partnership, said, “I see so many surprised expressions when people come in for the first time.” Free to use by residents of the county who have or work with children, the library allows each person to check out up to five items each visit.

“For the size of the county and partnership, I think we have one of the best and comprehensive Resource Lending Libraries,” said Brown.

The library’s additional resources such as the die cutter, laminator, and copier have proved to be great resources for parents who home-school their children, churches, teachers, and ardent scrapbookers, leading the partnership’s reach further than they had imagined.

The Richmond County Partnership for Children office and Resource Lending Library is located at 315 S. Lawrence St. in Rockingham. If you are interested in more information concerning its programs, mission, or use of the library you can call the office at 910-997-3773, or visit the website at www.richmondsmartstart.org.

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