Early Childhood Learning System Report
This research and the discussion which it seeks to contribute to is rooted in the collaborative work of The Early Childhood Learning Systems (ECLS) Network. Coming together under the shared vision that “All Elkhart County children have a warm and responsive parent/caregiver engaged in their child’s learning journey,” collaborators were inspired to exchange information, learn and share new insights and strategies, and create and coordinate with each other as a group to improve parent engagement in this community.
It became apparent that there were underlying issues that might better inform the work of the Parent Engagement Network. Through a series of conversations a compelling question emerged: “What are the factors that limit or enable growth and learning for Elkhart County children 0-8 years old, outside the K-12 (formal) systems?” While parent/caregiver engagement is vital for a child’s development and success, we came to see the importance of broadening the scope of our vision and collaboration.
From this question, came the desire and decision to map the early childhood system of Elkhart County. This mapping has taken various forms, but has a single goal: to find out what is limiting or enabling early childhood development in Elkhart County, to know who is doing what and with whom, and to understand the current system, how it operates, and what it is producing. These broader systemoriented inquiries are what morphed the Parent Engagement Network into the Early Childhood Learning Systems (ECLS) Network. Having expanded from its original focus on parent engagement, the current purpose of the ECLS Network is: “To promote and strengthen the early childhood learning system in Elkhart County that enables every child to thrive.”