United Way of Northern Utah is excited to welcome Tabatha Butler as the new Partnership Coordinator for Ogden United Promise Neighborhood. Her main focus will be on early childhood, ages 0–3, including prenatal health, child development, and education.
As the Partnership Coordinator, Tabatha will work with community partners and agencies to unify efforts and avoid duplication of services. She will focus on educating parents and providing services to help families with children. We asked Tabatha to answer a few questions about her work.
What is the goal of your new position within Ogden United Promise Neighborhood?
My ultimate goal is to get parents engaged in teaching their children and help them be aware of how important those early years are. A study from Boston showed that kids who attended playgroups before age three scored 25% higher on math and reading tests in third grade, compared to kids who didn’t attend playgroups. We need to help parents understand how important those years are and that there are activities they can do that start setting a really firm foundation for education readiness.
How will you get parents involved in the process of educating their children?
We have some parents serving on our board, and we try to make meetings fit around their parenting needs. One mom who got involved in our programs turned around and made a website and a Facebook page to help other women in her situation. She already has a platform for helping mothers here in Ogden find resources. There is also an app we are encouraging parents to use that sends information about child development.
Another important strategy is using schools as a place to connect with families. A lot of students have younger siblings at home. We want to use these schools as resource centers, helping us reach people in the community. There are already events within these spaces that are easy for parents to attend.
What kinds of success have these early childhood programs had?
One mom, who is now working to start a new community playgroup, has a really neat story. After her son was born, she just strapped him into the baby carrier and continued working and doing chores around the house. She’d never been around kids and didn’t know the importance of talking to him and interacting with him. His communication was actually delayed. She has loved coming to Inspire Playgroups and parenting classes to interact with other parents, ask questions, and learn how to play with her son. It’s important to make it fun and easy for parents, not just one more thing they need to do.
Click here to learn more about how Ogden United Promise Neighborhood is helping all kids prepare to succeed in school and beyond.