Continuing a Legacy of Supporting Early Childhood Education
By Cassandra Martin Frazier, Early Childhood Education Chair, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.
The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA) has a rich and impactful history of supporting and raising awareness of early childhood education. JLA has long understood the importance of strengthening early learning and development among children to improve overall child well-being.
In 1938, JLA was instrumental in establishing the Atlanta Speech School, which began as a school where children who are deaf or speech impaired can learn to speak and read. The Atlanta Speech School has since become the nation’s most comprehensive center for language and literacy. In 2015, JLA also produced a children’s book, A Heart for Service, written in partnership with the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School.
Through its Journey to Literacy program, JLA partners with local libraries to teach parents effective methods to develop and increase early literacy skills. League volunteers give out more than 3,000 books each year to children participating in the program. JLA also supports community partners’ efforts to address early childhood education by participating in Georgia Pre-K Week, the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club and Dr. Seuss Day annually.
During the 2018 – 2019 league year, members will continue to build upon its legacy by continuing to address priority needs for early childhood education. One key focus area is advocating to increase access to affordable, quality early care and education, especially for the working poor. JLA plans to work with community agencies to promote participation in Georgia’s Quality Rated program among early care and education centers in high need areas within metro-Atlanta. Another key area is continuing to empower parents and caregivers in fostering an environment that supports early learning and development. Next spring, the organization will provide age-appropriate books and resources about bonding with baby through reading to mothers of newborns to encourage language development. In addition, JLA will continue to have a seat at the table on matters related to early childhood education by engaging with community partners and coalitions, such as Learn 4 Life.
JLA is harnessing the collective power of its members by educating and empowering them to become everyday advocates for early childhood education. From serving on the board of nonprofits focused on early learning to engaging with parents of young children within their own neighborhoods, members have the knowledge and understanding to advocate and promote early childhood education in their everyday lives.