Comment Board

Latest comment posted 47 months ago

Children and Youth Master Plan

The Children, Youth & Families Collaborative Commission (CYFCC) advocates for Alexandria's children and youth (aged prenatal to 21 years) and their families by advising the City Council, the School Board, and City and school staff on policies that affect children, youth and their families; promoting the coordination, alignment and effectiveness of services provided by the City, public schools and private organizations; and studying and promoting research and best practices.

The Commission’s first major initiative is development of the Children and Youth Master Plan. The Plan will set long-term, community-wide priorities for young people as well as identify specific action steps towards those goals.

This comment board provides an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft Children and Youth Master Plan and Plan Overview and view the accompanying Alexandria Children & Youth Well-Being Profile, which contains data and research findings used to assess the state of Alexandria youth.You also have the option of emailing comments to

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Dear Members of the Commission,

Thank you for your work and dedication to the children in the City of Alexandria. it is because of your dedication that The City of Alexandria Children and Youth Master Plan will be an asset to all the children in Alexandria for years to come.

I have read your draft carefully, and would like to suggest the following be included in the final document:

* Children with disabilities be given special consideration in this process
* The creation of a system where, upon graduation, more children with disabilities be gainfully employed, and that this be included as a measure of success for Strategy 5: Provide opportunities for youth to develop community involvement and workplace related skills
* A comprehensive list of services be provided to all professionals for distribution to parents of special needs children. This includes resource teachers interacting with parents of children diagnosed with a disability
* A consorted effort be made to encourage members of the medical community to refer very young children who may be in need of services
* Community outreach to various government agencies, ethnic groups and charities to encourage underserved groups of children with disabilities to seek early intervention
* The creation of an environment where the abilities of children with disabilities are highlighted, rather than their disabilities. This could be a part of the Social, Emotional, Intellectual and Physical Growth objective

Again, thank you for all your efforts in this very important endeavor and for your kind consideration.

Audra Belcher (422) | User | December 31, 2013 - 11:57 PM

Comments on the City of Alexandria Youth Master Plan
Submitted by:
Julie Bosland

Alexandria Parent
Member of the YMP Design Team
Director, NLC University, National League of Cities

Dear Members of the Commission:

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the design team, and to review and provide comments on the near-final version of the City of Alexandria’s Youth Master Plan. The City is already taking significant leadership to make Alexandria a city that supports the success of children and families, and this plan will significantly accelerate these efforts.
Below please find some suggestions for further structural, substantive and editorial improvements. I recognize that at this stage of the development of this plan, the Commission may not be prepared to undertake this level of change, but perhaps these comments will spark some ideas for more modest adjustments.

Again, thank you for pursuing this important planning process and for the thoughtful and inclusive process.

Kind regards,

• It would be helpful to prepare an executive summary that quickly provides key goals:
o What do we want for our children and youth? - “All of Alexandria’s children and youth…” + the five priorities
o How will we know if we’re making progress towards these goals? – Objectives, specific measures, paragraph on data development goals
o How will we get there? – list only key strategies under each priority
• My concern with some of the sections on “Measuring…” under each priority, is that they are predominantly measures of activities. In results-based accountability, activities should be judged on: How much did we do? How well did we do it? Is anyone better off? The measures under Caring Networks and Systems (p. 20), actually cover all of these – how much (changes to local funding guidelines, policy changes), how well (data from client satisfaction surveys) and is anyone better off (% of youth reporting a connection with a caring adult, change in developmental assets scores). If possible, each priority should try to include all three (the last being the most important), and it might help to even add labels for which kind of measure it is.
• When a specific program, model or initiative is referenced (e.g. Community Dialogue Model, Bank On, Let’s Move, Strengthening Families Model, etc.), we should include an endnote with either a brief description and/or link to a place to learn more about the model.

Structural/Substantive Comments by Priority:

Priority 1: Supporting Social , Emotional, Intellectual and Physical Growth

As currently organized, the strategy sections don’t necessarily seem parallel, and could better mirror the overarching priority. One way to address this would be to convert the current strategies to a slightly different set of four:
1. Increase supports for social-emotional development for each age group.
2. Provide an accessible continuum of quality academic learning environments for all children from birth to 21 to ensure readiness, academic success and vocational preparedness.
3. Improve supports for health and wellness of children, youth and families.
4. Increase coordination and alignment at key transition points in a child’s development.

I’d recommend moving strategy 2 (Develop an integrated early care and education system) to Priority 3, which focuses on creating caring networks and systems. This is an extremely important strategy, but seems to more logically fit with the systems-development priority.

I’d also combine the current strategy 4 and 5 under the social emotional heading as they deal with risk avoidance behaviors, mentoring, civic engagement, teamwork, and employment soft skills.

Finally, I’d pull the mentoring/caring adult strategy up from Priority 3 to Priority 1 – an important aspect of socio-emotional development is this kind of stable, supportive relationship with a caring adult, and it is currently worded in terms of access for children/youth vs. a systems change.

What’s missing? I’d recommend adding a bit more on early childhood along each of and something about re-engagement/second chance options, and counseling/preparation for post-secondary education or vocational training. For example:
o For social/emotional development:
o Provide information and supports to new parents to foster healthy social and emotional development.
o For academic continuum:
o Increase library programming for parents with young children, create a city-wide early literacy campaign, and increase access to quality early childhood and pre-kindergarten.
o Create a re-engagement initiative with expanded alternative education options for students who have left school or are not well-served by the traditional education system.
o Enhance counseling for post-secondary education and workforce training options.
o For health/wellness:
o Move the strategy on prenatal to age 3 health from the early childhood system strategy (some additional specifics might include home visiting, helping families access health insurance and WIC, support to find a medical home)
* Health/nutrition/safety training for parents, informal caregivers, and childcare providers.

Ideas for a new Strategy 4:
o Create a city-school plan for early childhood-elementary school alignment.
o Create a city-school plan for the transition to middle school and from middle school to high school.
o Develop a task force to address alignment between high school, post-secondary education or vocational training, and the workforce.
o Provide cross-training for educators and others involved in supporting children and youth across these key transitions focusing on developing cross-system communication, sharing/use of data, and strengthening/continuing parental engagement.

Priority 2: Empowering and Equipping Families

I would propose a modified set of strategies that includes some more specific parent empowerment/support actions related to parents of young children and/or children with special needs and civic engagement of parents and youth (pulled from Priority 3), and propose combining current strategies 2 and 3.

I’d move Strategy 6 to the final priority section as funding is more appropriately covered in that section. (I also wonder about pulling this out for more funding. Did the Commission have a discussion about prioritizing funding needs within the plan?)

Strategy 1: Create a shared citywide vision of family engagement and promote a common message that values parental involvement. (no change)

Strategy 2: Offer on-going professional development and technical assistance for all “family facing” staff across the City of Alexandria and ACPS, and include private program staff whenever possible.
o Combine bullets from strategy 2 and 3, though I’m not sure I understand the formal recommendation by City Council for any new or expanded high-quality programming, in conjunction with the ACPS strategic plan.

Strategy 3: Provide support for parents of young children and parents of children with special needs.
o Action steps might include: new baby welcome packets at area hospitals, home visits, parenting/informal caregiver training and support groups, mutual assistance groups for parents, information and guidance about selecting child care and finding community supports, and ensuring parents have respite care options

Strategy 4: Create a robust multi-lingual communications system regarding parent engagement that reaches all stakeholders and families. (no change)
o I’d frame the first action step in terms of equipping families – “Distribute welcome packets…to inform parents about positive out-of-school time activities and city services.”
o Also under potential measures: what forms would be returned?

Strategy 5: Promote civic engagement among youth and parents by increasing and raising awareness about meaningful opportunities to engage and lead.
o Pull strategies from Priority 3, strategy 5. (Not sure how the two current action steps engage young people and families, but may be worth keeping in Priority 3 on improving systems?)

Priority 3: Creating Caring Networks and Systems

As noted above, I think the development of an integrated early care and education system is most appropriately addressed in this section on networks/systems. Also, it would be helpful to intentionally develop the afterschool/out-of-school time system.

For Strategy 1 and a few of the other concepts in this and other sections that relate to improving systems, I’d make the strategy more specific about providing training across systems – and where possible bringing together multiple systems – in key aspects of promoting quality and alignment.

I might also pull out the action step under Strategy 1 to make it a separate strategy focused on funding for collaboration/alignment with the YMP.

I’d pull the first action step under Priority 1, Strategy 1 to this section and combine with the action step under strategy 2 (both slightly reworded): “ Help programs improve by providing clear standards and/or quality rating systems and technical assistance or resources to help programs meet these standards.”

I think Strategy 6 (the early warning system) is a good cross-system step that could be taken as a result of this plan.

In sum, if I was reorganizing this section, I’d include the following six strategies focused on two systems that should be better developed, along with training, quality standards, investment in collaboration/a backbone entity, and use of data.

Strategy 1: Create an integrated early care and education system (moved from Priority 1)

Strategy 2: Create an integrated out-of-school time system (added)

Strategy 3: Offer cross-system training opportunities to increase understanding of: the youth master plan; cross-system communication; client-oriented practice; cultural competence; the use (and sharing) of data to improve child outcomes; the importance of establishing positive adult-child/youth relationships; and effective outreach to and engagement of youth and families (pulling from a variety of ideas throughout the plan, but framed with a systems-building focus)

Strategy 4: Help programs improve by providing clear standards and/or quality rating systems and technical assistance or resources to help programs meet these standards (pulling from other proposed action steps in Priority 1 and 3)

Strategy 5: The City and ACPS should designate/invest in a backbone entity to promote collaboration among programs and should encourage other funders to provide needed funds to support collaborative efforts. (adapted from action step under Priority 3,
Strategy 1)

Strategy 6: Schools and other child-serving agencies coordinate an early warning system to identify problems and address them. (unchanged)

Priority 4: Promoting Equity and Nurturing Cultural Connections

It struck me that it is hard to see where we’ve included the input of the youth -- other than the appendix -- in the suggested action steps (though may have missed some of the ideas that were incorporated). Under strategy 1 of this goal, it seems like we might use some of the youth suggestions, such as the idea of a diversity council in middle/high school or more opportunities for youth of different backgrounds to socialize.

Priority 5: Improving Economic Opportunity

In this section, I’d combine Strategy 2 and 4, which both deal with related career pathways and job opportunities.
Under strategy 3, I’d slightly expand the wording to “Expand financial education, access to public benefits, and asset development.”

Priority 6: Data, Implementation and Fiscal Accountability
Glad to see the addition of a section focused on data and accountability. The development and use of data on an ongoing basis will be what makes this plan a living document and something that can evolve over time to become increasingly effective.

A couple thoughts:
• Perhaps add an action step focused on developing an integrated data plan to provide a more complete picture of needs of and trends in behaviors among children and youth in Alexandria. (This could be tied to the development of the early warning system in Priority 3).
• It might also be helpful to include an action step that focused on clarifying processes for using data – who will get what data? How will it be used?)
• Wondering about the different emphasis on resiliency (a separate action step) vs. cultural connections, parent engagement and social/emotional well-being (together in one action step).
• For the “all in” web portal, if you want to include information for both individuals (parents and youth) and providers/leaders, it should be very clearly organized so that different audiences don’t have to sift through the ideas for viewers looking from very different perspectives. I might be inclined to actually separate the child/youth vs. provider/leader topics, but this could just be done through the structure of the website.
• Under Implementation Strategy 1, I’d recommend re-wording the second action step to ask the School Board to direct the Superintendent to “become a partner in the implementation of …” versus “to fully cooperate” -- just strikes me as an important difference in nuance.

Minor proofing edits/suggestions:
p. 7/mid-page: space after dash following Reporting
p.8/second paragraph: “The Alexandria Children and Youth Master Plan… needs an "and" between resilient and socially and civically engaged and empowered.
p. 8/chart at bottom of the page: align the order of the goals and objectives to match the order in the dashboard
p. 8/Goal Socially and Civically…: replace one version of the “Decrease Number of Youth Entering the Juvenile Justice System” – based on the dashboard, looks like one should be replaced by something about afterschool engagement?
p. 9/second paragraph is repetitive of first paragraph
p. 10/under socially and civically engaged, could we put afterschool program participation (a positive factor) above number of Group A juvenile crimes? Also, would be good to convert crimes to a rate – it is currently the only number vs. percentage
p. 11/last line, fourth paragraph -- add a comma after plans: “plans, that will improve…”
p. 18/space between first two paragraphs under “The Importance of Caring Networks and Systems”
p. 20/capitalize Other in “Consistency with Other Alexandria Plans”
p. 22/under “Defining Equity, Cultural Competence…” need spaces between paragraphs
p. 23/last paragraph: it is not clear what point the middle two sentences are trying to make with the opposite framing of the number of white and black high school students who have best friends of another race. I think the point is made better by saying: “Indeed, only about one in 12 white high school students…” and then converting the next line to a comparable measure (nearly 2 in 12 black students) or converting both to percentages.
p. 25/Strategy 3: Clarify whose definition is being expanded and reference expanded understanding of culture: “Expand the City of Alexandria’s definition... and develop a better understanding of Alexandria’s cultural diversity.”
p. 25/Strategy 5, action step 1: add comma between sexual orientation and income, delete “and” between income and disability
p. 28/Strategy 3, third action step bullet – spell out IDAs (Individual Development Accounts)
p. 30/Strategy 2: pull the last action bullet to the top – collaboration on implementation seems to come before reporting out
p. 32/end of first paragraph: “within three to five years” (spell out vs. dash)

Julie Bosland (421) | User | December 31, 2013 - 11:58 AM

Dear Members of the Commission:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on what is missing in the City’s youth master plan. I am writing as an Alexandria parent with two children in ACPS and as an individual with expertise in early education as the director of the Early Education Initiative at New America, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, DC, where we focus on aligning and improving policies to promote early learning for children and their families birth through age 8.

For the past several years, I have observed cities around the country (San Francisco, Seattle, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, Richmond, Palm Beach, and more) start to create aligned, accountable and well-rounded systems sparked by the leadership and vision of school district superintendents, mayors, leaders of community organizations, educators and parents. For years I have hoped that my own city, Alexandria, could catch up to these other places. Throughout 2013, it has been encouraging to see Alexandria take some real steps in that direction. This youth master plan represents an opportunity for the city to surpass what other cities are doing around the country.

These comments focus on the area that I know the most about, Community Priority 1: Supporting Social, Emotional, Intellectual and Physical Growth. Positive elements include its holistic approach, connecting health and learning; its alignment with other city plans; its focus on connecting services and goals starting at birth and extending up through age 21; the recognition of the need for stronger linkages between the city’s services for children birth to age 5 and the public schools; the focus on community input throughout the past year of the plan’s drafting; the suggestion of a web portal that could provide a one-stop-shop for parents; and the creation of a dashboard for the commission to track progress.

However, this section of the plan appears to lack some important pieces for measuring progress and holding ourselves accountable for better outcomes for our city’s children and families. Here are several elements that would give the plan more teeth:

1. Under strategy 1, the potential measures of success are not tied to the data that would be shown on the dashboard. For example, the baseline data on the dashboard shows that at least one-fourth of third graders are not reading proficiently. And one of the action steps calls for coordination with ACPS to “demonstrate that every student achieves at least one year of academic progress in reading, writing and math.” Yet the potential measures of success make no mention of evidence that could show improvement (or lack thereof) in students’ reading, writing or math scores. Could we add metrics that reflect social and academic advancement and growth in our children and students – not simply their participation in activities? And could we add some benchmarks with which to test ourselves? In San Antonio’s 2020 Plan, for example, the city is aiming for 80 percent of its third-graders to pass the state’s reading test at the “commended” level by the year 2020. Its public data dashboard shows that San Antonio still has a long way to go before meeting that goal, but at least it is transparent in showing where it is falling short.
2. Several additional action steps may be necessary under strategy 1 to provide the continuum of “quality academic learning environments” it calls for. Some suggested additions:
o Provide shared professional development and training for staff members in respective city, school and city-funded non-profit agencies to align services to meet the highest standards of their disciplines.
o Create a system of valid, reliable and shared assessments that fairly evaluate how well individual children, families and programs are making progress in meeting goals.
o Build a coordinated, timely system of data collection and data analysis to ensure that assessment results are comprehensible and used to inform how educators and other mentors could adjust their teaching or services to help individual students make progress.
o Publicize the agencies/providers participating in quality initiatives and achieving high ratings so that parents are better informed about child care and preschool options in their neighborhoods.
3. Under Strategy 2, it is great to see the action step for aligning the early childhood system with the K-12 system. Too often, this is missing from community plans, leading to mismatched priorities between preschool programs and first few grades of elementary school (K-3) and eventually causing children to lose learning time by either repeating work, being pushed ahead without a strong foundation in a content area, or being expected to behave in ways that are developmentally inappropriate for 5- and 6-year-olds. In other communities, ensuring that this alignment is successful requires at least two sub-steps: 1) establishing regular meetings between K-12 leaders (principals, superintendents and deputies) and birth-to-5 leaders (preschool and child care directors); 2) hosting professional development events that enable leaders and teachers to develop a shared understanding of what good learning environments look like for children at different ages; and 3) two-way sharing of children’s data and assessment results, so that preschool directors see how their students have progressed in kindergarten, first-grade and so on, and so that principals and kindergarten teachers can plan their year based on the skills or challenges of their incoming students.
4. Lastly, while the plan does note the importance of additional computers in a later section on economic opportunities for youth and families, the plan does not fully recognize the extent to which access to Internet connectivity and online resources are becoming more and more important to family- and student-well-being and to the accessibility of learning opportunities, even for families with very young children (think playgroup schedules, calendars for library storytimes, portfolios of preschool field trips, children’s ebooks, and more). The city should 1) beef up its broadband connectivity and open WiFi to ensure all children and families can gain easy access in our schools, libraries and public spaces; 2) provide librarians, educators and other community mentors with training programs and other professional development opportunities that will enable them to pass on information about learning tools and resources to families and students; 3) ensure that families are able to connect to each other, be in touch with each other in times of need, and create resilient networks of support throughout their neighborhoods or school groups to assist all children in their reach.

I am heartened to see that ACT and the Early Care & Education Work Group has already conducted a Risk and Reach study that has pinpointed geographic areas of the city that need particular focus and support. This is an important next step for smart implementation of the master plan.

With our city’s growing child poverty rate, this master plan is urgently needed. I hope that you will consider some of the above suggestions to make it even stronger. Thank you sincerely for your consideration.

With best regards,

Lisa Guernsey Krupicka
Alexandria parent
and, as Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative, New America

Lisa Guernsey Krupicka (420) | User | December 30, 2013 - 1:35 PM

Many thanks to FACE and other contributors for the comprehensive links to the Draft Children and Youth Master Plan, the Plan Overview, and the Alexandria Children & Youth Well-Being Profile. Unable to attend a publicized public forum, I was able to access the data online. After reading the Plan I offer three comments:
First, I commend the breadth and depth of the committee members listed in the documents. Some I know from my first days in Alexandria more than two decades ago, others are students, which demonstrates in practice what the Plan recommends in terms of engaging a range of stake holders, including youth.
Second, the goals are big. I applaud this perspective; as Alexandrians define and aim for big outcomes, we will achieve them. Historically, our community has been active, successful, and involved. We are among the early historic communities in our country and its worth the effort to define our goals, to set forth an achievable action plan, and to invite our entire community to contribute.
Finally, the Plan illuminates a number of trends in which we are headed in the right direction. What great news to read! It also shows where we want to improve and potential ways community stakeholders can contribute and ways we already are.

AmyNThomas (379) | User | December 16, 2013 - 6:48 PM

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the City of Alexandria Children and Youth Master Plan. Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia is a 25-year old non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the well-being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect by:
Educating the community about the scope, nature and consequences of child abuse and neglect and the importance of positive, nurturing parenting;
Providing direct parent education; and
Advocating for children in the community, the legislature and the courts.
SCAN’s vision is that every child in Northern Virginia will grow up in a safe, stable, nurturing family, with the supports they need to contribute to stronger communities today and as adults tomorrow. SCAN makes a difference by implementing effective, evidence-based prevention programs throughout Northern Virginia. In the past year, SCAN advocated for more than 175 of our community's most vulnerable children who have been abused or neglected as decisions were made about their futures, strengthened hundreds of families through parent education efforts, and educated thousands of community members through public education efforts throughout Northern Virginia.

As a community, there is no greater priority than to ensure that all of our children and youth succeed today and tomorrow. The leadership and work to focus on this important issue is to be commended. The vision outlined by the Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission (CYFCC) is bold, ambitious and vital to the success of these families and their children.

Beginning this conversation by examining important data from the community and compiling the Alexandria Youth Well-Being Profile 2013 provides a critical framework. We were pleased to see an indicator in this profile related to founded abuse and neglect, recognizing the detrimental long-term effects on children and their families. We also praise the inclusion of parent engagement as a strategy to improve the lives of Alexandria’s children as our work in the community highlights how critical this service is for families. Parents are the first teachers of their children and have enormous influence on children’s interpersonal skill development, physical and emotional well-being, academic success and future independence. We urge the Commission to prioritize the strategies that support parent engagement as these are likely to be extremely cost-effective in the long-term cost-benefit analysis for our community.

However, we also have a number of concerns in this area:

While overall an element within the profile, the strategic plan does not outline strategies or action steps to specifically address reducing abuse and neglect among our youth. We recommend the plan more clearly outline the reduction of abuse and neglect as a priority and include strategies to specifically support work in this area within the community. We are encouraged that the Plan highlights Empowering and Equipping Families as a priority (#2) and recognizes the vital role parents and parent-figures play in the healthy development of children and youth. We were also pleased to see the core principles your design team stated about seeing youth and families as change agents, not just clients, and recognizing that children don't grow up in programs but in families and communities. However, we are concerned that this principle did not shape the language used in Community Priority 1, Strategies 2 & 4 or Community Priority 3 Strategy 6. We would encourage you to consider adding an action step under CP1/S2 that recognizes and actively supports parents' role in the early care and education of their young children - not just the formal service system. Also, consider that just strengthening/measuring the indicator of parent knowledge of PROGRAMS is insufficient - it is even more important to strengthen/measure parent knowledge of child development and how parents and other caregivers can positively influence and support that development. We would further encourage the inclusion of parents in the list of resource people engaged in action step 1 under CP1/S4. Finally, we would suggest inclusion of parents in the language for Strategy 6 under CP3 and an additional action step under that strategy specifically focused on educating parents and community members, so as to better reflect the principle of recognizing parents and community members as key agents of health and change and not just recipients of "child-serving agencies' services."

It is not clear how the dashboard proposed in the plan will report data on this critical issue – the draft plan includes data on abuse for children of all ages, but we recommend this data be reported in disaggregates across age categories. In addition, by recognizing the different responses required in this area, we believe this data should be disaggregated to differentiate between abuse and neglect cases. Finally, every year we know youth age out of foster care with no connections or supports and it is critical that we report on these youth and our progress in preventing this outcome.

The profile indicators around a caring adult use placement in foster care and placement in congregate care facilities as measures of a “lack of a caring adult.” A focus on a caring adult – whether a parent, a mentor, or another caregiver to be an ongoing and consistent support to a youth is absolutely critical and each placement is an opportunity to create and support that connection. We urge the Commission to recognize the value of fathers, parents, relatives, teachers and others in the lives of these children and identify ways to support this type of connection for every child in the community at every point we have to intervene.

We were also pleased to see the inclusion of a core principle about learning from the success of others selected by your Design Team. However, a commitment to collaborating with nonprofit and community partners in the implementation and monitoring of this plan seems lacking in several important areas. We would encourage you to add "and community programs" to the 2nd action step under CP2/S1 so that there is a real commitment to working together during implementation to achieve this goal and not just including non-profit programs in the indicator/measure. In addition, we would encourage you to consider committing to inviting and welcoming community and nonprofit staff who work with youth in the trainings planned for strategies 2 & 3 under CP2 as a way to ensure that these professional development efforts enhance cross-sector learning, shared vocabulary and principles, and collaborative efforts to strengthen our city and its youth. We would similarly encourage the inclusion of nonprofit and community family engagement programs in the analysis planned under strategy 6 of CP2. Finally, encouraging alignment between public and private programs could be enhanced through the Accountability/Alignment strategy 1 under CP6 by committing to inviting, learning from, and collaborating with nonprofit youth-serving and family-serving programs in the City.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments. We’d be happy to provide further information or clarify any of these comments.

Mary Kudless
SCAN Board of Directors

Mary Kudless (416) | User | December 13, 2013 - 3:34 PM

I would like to comment on Community Priority 1, Strategy 3, Improve supports for the health and wellness of children, youth and families. I have spent the last 18 ½ years working in school health in Alexandria City Public Schools. There are several important health issues that I do not see addressed in the draft report of which I am very concerned about as a result of my many years of work with the youth of Alexandria. I would propose three additional goals. My first proposed goal would be to improve child oral health. Over the years, I have become aware of the significant unmet oral health needs in our school community. An oral health screening in 2011 by several school nurses found a rate of caries of 28-29% in three Alexandria elementary school populations. Additionally, the nurses found that students with caries were more likely to have more than 4 cavities than less than 4 cavities. A second proposed goal would be to reduce childhood overweight and obesity. This is a significant national concern, and young people in Alexandria are also reflecting these trends. We should be addressing this serious health issue as a community. Third, we should work to increase the number of children with health insurance. A recent report prepared by Jennifer Tolbert of the Kaiser Family Foundation for the ACPS School Health Advisory Board noted that 6.8% of children (1,628) in Alexandria are uninsured (a rate slightly higher than the state average) and approximately 2/3 of these children may qualify for public insurance or subsidies under the ACA (source: Thank you for your serious consideration of these suggestions.

Robin Wallin (415) | User | December 4, 2013 - 5:52 PM

A presentation on the Palm Beach County model was featured during an event sponsored by Act for Alexandria. It has not been a part of discussions associated with the Children & Youth Master Plan. Strategies such as those undertaken by Palm Beach will be the focus of the next phase of the Children & Youth Master Plan process.

City SealJacqueline Coachman (389) | City Staff | December 4, 2013 - 5:46 PM

There is no sense of urgency for any strategy, nor measurable goals, specifically in #2. Data exists which shows the number of Alexandria children not participating in any early education program, research confirms the efficacy of such, yet none of the strategies listed differentiate this age group from others in terms of importance. Other elements which are missing from strategy #2.
a. Measurable goal: Ensure all Alexandria children are enrolled in high quality, accessible and affordable preschool and or early education by date. (ie 2017)
b. There is no acknowledgement of early education as a workforce issue. Measurable goal: Develop case for childcare/early education as workforce issue and present to Chamber for input. Secure sponsorship of a business advisory on early education/childcare by X.
c. There is no mention of space. Measurable goal: Have Alex Planning and Zoning create viable incentives for developers to include childcare/early education space in all new developments beginning January 2018.
d.Increase funding as a specific outcome. Examples
a. increase funding for those preschools that meet NAEYC standards.
b. Increase reimbursement rates for home childcare providers that meet same.

What ever happened to consideration of the Palm Beach County Florida model?

Margaret Patterson (413) | User | November 25, 2013 - 11:03 AM

If you are coming to this page to comment on the Children and Youth Master Plan, please create an account and do so. It's not an onerous process. Your thoughts and ideas are important. Thanks!

Sean McEnearney (409) | User | November 18, 2013 - 1:52 PM

Thank you all for your excellent work on the Children and Youth Master plan. One area I thought that should be added to the plan has to do with physical safety and protecting children from harm.

I think under Community Priority #1 there should be a Physical Safety to support the objective under The Goal of "Physically Safe and Healthy"- "Improve the Safety of Environments for Children"

We want children to be physically safe, not to be harmed or witness violence.

1. prevent child abuse
- Stewards of Children Child Sexual Abuse Prevention training for all child-serving staff in the City of Alexandria government and ACPS so that adults are able to protect children in Alexandria from sexual abuse
- fulfillment of goals elsewhere in document to equip families to keep their children safe from harm, support positive parenting and healthy relationships

2. Respond effectively to children who are harmed or witness violence
- fully functioning and accredited Children's Advocacy Center program run by the Center for Alexandria's Children (a public-private partnership) that enables agencies to respond effectively to children who have been abused or witness violence and get them on the path to healing
- fully staffed Youth Unit within APD that consists of specially trained detectives who respond to crimes against children and youth in the City of Alexandria

Susan Britton (407) | User | November 14, 2013 - 6:47 PM

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