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Reid, left, and Kathryn Presnell ride their bicycles with The Children's Council of Watauga County in this year's Fourth of July Parade in Boone. Submitted photo




Originally published: 2012-09-19 11:41:51
Last modified: 2012-09-19 11:41:51

The Children’s Council: a resource for all young children

by Anna Oakes

From cradle to kindergarten, the first 2,000 days of a child’s life are considered crucial to later learning, health and success, childhood development experts say.

To aid parents during this critical time, The Children’s Council of Watauga County has resources available for all families, said Crystal Kelly, executive director.

“My goal is for us to be the place to go to if you had a young child in Watauga County,” said Kelly, who became the executive director in January. “There’s lots of ways to plug in.”

Located in the Family Resource Center at 225 Birch St., The Children’s Council office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The council offers early childhood educational materials, family support services, play groups, early literacy programs and community outreach events.

According to the North Carolina Partnership for Children’s “First 2,000 Days” campaign, neuroscientists have found that much of a young child’s brain synapse formation, which influences intellectual capacity, memory, problem solving and language, takes place in the first five years of life.

Social and emotional skills and healthy practices are also developed during early childhood, the campaign said.

The Children’s Council of Watauga was in the past most well-known as the child-care referral center for the county; if you were looking for a day-care center for your child, you could go to the council for a list of options.

But that responsibility now lies with a regional call center, Kelly said.

“For a long time, that was the main association of what The Children’s Council did,” Kelly said. “People may not be aware of all the things we do.”

At its office on Birch Street, The Children’s Council has an expanded Resource Corner with materials available for onsite use or checkout, including books, activity kits and motor skills activities, as well as a copier, laminator and die-cut machine.

The Children’s Council operates a diaper bank for families who need diapers or for distribution by social service agencies and food pantries, and they encourage community groups to hold diaper drives to contribute to their supply.

For new kindergarteners, The Children’s Council gives out gift bags at school orientations. It also distributes supplies and materials through pajama and bookbag programs.

The council hosts training sessions for new parents and child-care workers, children’s yoga, support groups and more.

“The overall resources available to us are for everybody,” Kelly said.

This Saturday, Sept. 22, The Children’s Council hosts the third annual Quest for Quality Early Childhood Conference at Appalachian State University’s College of Education building.

The conference features four training sessions, with tracks for child-care professionals, parents, teachers, agency employees, administrators and others.

About 150 people attended the conference last year, Kelly said.

For more information, call (828) 262-5424 or visit http://www.thechildrenscouncil.org.