Our Children Now!

Kid Ag FairOur Children Now! is an umbrella project initiated by CFVI in 1997 to coordinate and steer a number of closely linked efforts on behalf of children. In the decades since the launch of this initiative, CFVI has spearheaded a number or projects, programs, and efforts aimed at enhancing the lives of children and families in the Territory. Among the key activities have been: collaborating with community and government partners to advocate for policy development and program enhancement, and providing an annual data snapshot.

PRIORITIES & ACTIVITIES

Through Our Children Now! CFVI aims to serve as a facilitator of efforts that will positively impact children’s development, readiness for school, and later life success. CFVI is committed to raising public awareness, increasing parent/family engagement, advising stakeholders on best practices, and serving as a clearinghouse for funding dedicated to children and families.

To this end, our efforts are concentrated around the following activity areas:

Applying Expertise · Promoting Best Practices

Serve as an advisor or participating member on projects/initiatives, including the Virgin Islands Department of Education New School Construction Advisory Board, Human Services Research Partnership, the MCHM-McVee Home Visiting Program (Department of Health), the DHS/UVI Early Childhood Care Study Project.

Inform and advocate regarding best practices for programs and policies that will move the needle on issues affecting children and their families.

Convening Key Stakeholders · Representing Local Interests

Bring together community members, concerned citizens, government leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss and address issues impacting children and their families.

Represent USVI interests in national initiatives, such as the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Connecting with Communities · Raising Awareness and Engagement

Reach young children and families directly, promoting messages that encourage early learning, positive caregiving environments, and nurturing parenting practices.

Engage in community-based engagements and awareness efforts, such as the Play and Learn Tent at the St. Croix Agricultural and Food Fair, maintenance of an early childhood resource and book bank, and distribution of products with child- and family-themed messaging.

HISTORY & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Data and Advocacy 

From 1999 to 2019, CFVI served as the USVI grantee/steward for KIDS COUNT, a national network of nonprofits, foundations and consortiums launched in 1990, including members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The initiative is made possible by the generous financial and technical assistance and support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The KIDS COUNT USVI Data Book provides information on and documents challenges to child well-being in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its purpose is to promote dialogue on children’s issues and to stimulate community response to improve the health, safety and economic status of VI children, from birth to age 18. From 2000-2019, the KIDS COUNT USVI Data Book was compiled and published each year by CFVI and are the result of sustained local partnerships involving CFVI, the University of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands government, community organizations, and service-providing agencies.

According to Casey Foundation senior policy associate Karina Jimenez Lewis, “Kids Count and U.S. Virgin Islanders have benefitted greatly from the stewardship and service to the Kids Count initiative from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. We know that providing children and families with the resources, tools and information they need is an ongoing and central part of CFVI’s work and that the Kids Count work will continue to be enhanced by their expertise and experience.”   During this time of transition, CFVI stands ready to assist in whatever capacity is needed to assure the continued success of KIDS COUNT USVI.

Electronic versions of the Data Book are available on CFVI’s Publications page, along with a variety of other materials and resources. Data are also accessible via the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which provides in-depth historical and current data on all available indicators for the Virgin Islands. Hosted by the National KIDS COUNT Initiative, data are drawn from both local and national sources.

Early Childhood

CFVI’s early childhood initiative was launched in 2006, with the establishment of The Family Connection (TFC). Data reviewed through our role as the KIDS COUNT organization for the USVI highlighted the need to focus on improving the quality of early care and education throughout the Territory.

TFC aimed to strengthen the Territory’s child care and early education infrastructure by building awareness of the importance of early learning and development for success and working with community agencies to promote quality care and education. In particular, TFC provided training programs, networking, and resources to child care providers, early education professionals, and parents of young children.

A physical TFC Center opened in 2006, with the intention of providing space for the early childhood community to gather and share ideas on raising the standard for early care and education. The TFC center provided books, educational materials, and toys to children, their parents, child care providers, and teachers. In 2014, the TFC Center was relocated to the Educational Center of the St. Thomas Humane Society campus. Since 2017, TFC-related activities have transitioned to fall under the umbrella of Our Children Now!

For a comprehensive listing of activities and highlights to date, see the TFC Accomplishments Summary.

Contact Anna Scarbriel at annas@cfvi.net for more information.