By Jack Matasosky
For more than a year, I have been a part of a group of Lakeville leaders – business owners, clergy, nonprofit leaders, elected officials and others – working with 360 Communities to think differently about how our community meets its most public needs. Above all, we’re focused on finding new ways to deliver early childhood education so that our community’s programs and services are reaching more children and getting better outcomes.
We’re redesigning the early childhood education ecosystem in Lakeville to make it work better within the dollars available, even as the demand for service continues to grow, and that’s no easy feat.
But our community is rising to the challenge of thinking differently about our early childhood programs. It’s an exciting adventure to be a part of.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting that brought together representatives from a broad cross-section of Lakeville early childhood programs collectively identify how we could reach more people with our existing programs. The meeting, convened by 360 Communities in partnership with InCommons, an initiative of the Bush Foundation, was the beginning of a six-month process to get our community focused on improving early childhood education and focusing on outcomes. Film crews for Redesigning MN were on-hand to capture our community-driven conversation as a local-level example of the conversations that need to take place to redesign our public services.
Our community-driven effort has continued to move forward in the weeks since this event. We’re thinking about how to make sure every child in need has access to the early childhood education programs that can help them thrive in school, and how to ensure that every Lakeville parent knows about these opportunities offered by our existing network of community supports. And we’re thinking about how we can improve the programs offered to ensure that every Lakeville child enters Kindergarten on track for success.
As a long-time resident of Lakeville, it’s invigorating to see our community coming together – people from the business and faith communities, educators, parents, and other residents – to create better opportunities for our youngest residents. I know that we’re all committed to creating a better future for Lakeville, and thoughtful conversations like the event convened by 360 Communities and InCommons are equipping us to find that shared vision and craft a collective approach to redesigning our early childhood education programs.
At the end of the day, change needs to be driven by the families that need help. We can’t fit people into programs. We need to engage them in these opportunities – and we’ll all be better off for it.
That’s what we’re trying to do in Lakeville, and I’m proud to be a part of it.