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This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child. This annual celebration is sponsored by the National Association of Young Children (NAEYC) to promote the importance of early childhood education.

"This week provides an opportunity to acknowledge the important role we all play in the development of young children. As a designated Early Childhood Iowa area, Better Tomorrows works to provide opportunities that ensure young children experience safe, nurturing and healthy environments." said Erin Monaghan, director of Better Tomorrows.

Early childhood is a time of rapid brain growth. During this period children gain cognitive and social skills that help form the foundation for their future learning and academic success. A child's experiences, positive or negative, influence the wiring of his brain and the connections in the nervous system.

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University reports that in the first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are formed every second. These connections are created through interaction of genes, environment and experiences. Interactions like the "serve and return" communication with adults builds a foundation upon which lifelong learning, behavior and health depend. Learn more about this research at

"We want to thank the child care and early education providers, libraries, family support programs, and families, that engage in positive activities for all young children. This year has been especially challenging for young children and those who care for them. The Week of the Young Child offers an opportunity time to focus on and celebrate our young children and the early childhood professionals that care for them." said Kecia Appleby, board chair of Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa.

Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa provides funding to the following programs that support children prenatally through age five, including the following services:

* Healthy Families: Family Support Workers work with families to set and achieve goals and learn about child development to help them thrive and succeed. Contact LSI at 319/214-1054 for more information.* Preschool scholarships: Provided to families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Contact Better Tomorrows, 319/214-1471.* Quality Early Childhood Environments: Childcare providers and preschool programs participating in quality improvement programs and in-depth professional development courses are eligible to receive a stipend to purchase materials. Contact Better Tomorrows, 319/214-1471.* Childcare Alliance Response Team (CART): Provides behavioral supports and services to child care providers in Benton County, with children that are exhibiting challenging behaviors. Contact Grant Wood AEA, 319/399-6574.* Childcare Nurse Consultant: Provides services to child care providers to ensure best health and safety practices are utilized. In Benton County contact HACAP at 319/393-7811, in Tama County. Contact MICA at 641/328-9133. * Childcare Expansion: Provides funding to new childcare providers or existing providers that increase their capacity. Contact Better Tomorrows, 319/214-1471.

More information about Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa is available at

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