United Way reveals ‘Bright Start’ plan for early childhood care, education

JACKSON, Tenn. — The Bright Start program was announced in Madison County on Friday to an audience that was filled with government officials, educators, Jackson Chamber members, and multiple nonprofits.

Bright Start was put together by a passionate team as the need is so extensive.

“We are in a childcare crisis, we do not have nearly enough childcare to support the students and the children that we have now, much less the students and the children that we’re projected to get as our region grows,” said Olivia Abernathy, Bright Start Fellow & Director of Early Education Initiatives, United Way West Tennessee.

The plan is made of various strategies stretching across the span of three years, each with its own stage of implementation.

“Part of it is just educating people and young people that this is an option. This is a worthy profession, but it’s also about making sure our society also treats it like a worthy profession,” Abernathy said. “A lot of our plan focuses on building development strategies like high school CTE programs, like making sure there’s connections to programs like Dyersburg State Community College that offers a free child development associate’s degree.”

The funding that originally started the program was led by the Tennesseans for Early Education, but depending on the plan, some funding could still be needed.

And among those in attendance was Senator Ed Jackson, who also wanted to help.

“And I wanted to know what this program was going to do and maybe help them, be able to achieve some of those grant funds that are available for them,” Jackson said.

Another item mentioned at the meeting was the Childcare West Tennessee website, funded by the City of Jackson, that is coming in February. The website is a resource for parents to search for child care throughout the area in real time.

Click here to learn more about Bright Start TN.

For more news in the Madison County area, click here.

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