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Tomorrow’s Hope Documentary Highlights Importance of Family Engagement in Early Childhood Development

“Tomorrow’s Hope” celebrates the impact of partnering with parents.

May 19, 2021
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The importance of partnering with parents to support them in their role as the children’s first and most important teacher is at the core of the documentary film, “Tomorrow’s Hope,” which will have its virtual nationwide premiere this Thursday, May 20. The film spotlights three students from Educare Chicago, an early childhood education center run by Start Early, who started at the school as infants through their high school graduation.

“Parents are critical in helping their children learn. Your best chance of any educational intervention sustaining itself is to invest in the parent,” former vice president of program and innovation Portia Kennel notes in the film.

Elishaba Poindexter, a mother whose son Jamal is featured in the film shares, “When my son started at Educare Chicago, he was 18 months old. I thought ‘Wow, this program is actually engaging not only the students but the parents as well — teaching us how to be with our child at home.’” She emphasized how Educare Chicago provided a key sense of community. “For Jamal, to constantly have that guidance and push that’s the village [needed] to raise a child.”

Families are a child’s first and most important teachers, which is why Start Early works directly with families, often starting before birth, to empower parenting skills and nurture the strong bonds between children and their caregivers that are essential to every child’s present and future well-being.

“We work hard to create relationships with parents and look at each family as an individual with their own hopes and dreams,” noted Brenda Eiland-Williford, director of early childhood quality and impact at Start Early in the film.

Parents and caregivers have the clearest perspective of what their family needs. As we begin the work of rebuilding our early childhood system back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, family voices — like those featured in “Tomorrow’s Hope” — must be included in the planning, implementation, oversight and evaluation of all programs serving children from birth to age 5 and their families.

As Rebecca Berlin, chief learning officer at Start Early and principal investigator of the National Center for Parent, Family and Community Engagement (NCPFCE) shared with Early Learning Nation, “We know [lifting family voices] will lead to early learning programs that truly support family well-being, effective family and community engagement and children’s school readiness so that every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

We encourage you to register for the Thursday, May 20 nationwide virtual premiere of “Tomorrow’s Hope.” Continue following our blog to stay up to date on our latest initiatives, including our work leading the NCPFCE.

“Tomorrow’s Hope” was produced by the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation and is presented in partnership with a group of organizations from across the U.S. that are united in their dedication to early childhood education.

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