People taking part in UNM's Family Development Program/Decade of the Child dialogues on early childhood development issues will conduct a forum to share their ideas for ensuring the success of all children on Thursday, Nov. 11 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the South Broadway Cultural Center.

The Decade of the Child Coalition is one of five taking place across greater Albuquerque as part of the Strong Starts for Children initiative. The campaign was launched with a proclamation from the Governor declaring 2010-2020 as the Decade of the Child where the impact on children and their families is always a first consideration when making decisions and developing policies.

The goal of the forum is to create action teams that will carry out community dialogues recommendations that will transform collective concerns about our children into constructive change. Additionally, stories of community members who came together as strangers and formed a bond and commitment to create action and ensure the success of not only their children but all children will be shared.

More than 50 people from neighborhoods throughout Albuquerque have worked together in dialogues to find ways to support families with young children. Folks from all ages and walks of life spent the last two months meeting in libraries, schools, faith based community centers and online. Parents, educators, business personnel, scientists, teen moms, and students shared their insights and perspectives to create visions, discuss challenges, recognize assets and make personal and policy recommendations. Common threads to promote action and change include access to healthy food, communicating with schools, and providing parenting workshops and support. The dialogues will culminate in an Action Forum, a celebratory event that brings together all of the participants to report out their ideas for creating brighter futures for their kids.

The Strong Starts for Children groups who are hosting or have hosted action forum events are as follows:
• University of New Mexico Family Development Program (in collaboration with Decade of the Child, a statewide early childhood advocacy coalition)
-- Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc., on behalf of the All Indian Pueblo Council

• Cuidando los Niños, on behalf of the New Mexico Campaign to End Child Homelessness
-- Date and location of action forum - Tuesday, Nov. 23 at the South Broadway Cultural Center

• Native American Professional Parent Resources
-- action forum held - Oct. 5 at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) and Spring 2011

• Youth Development, Inc., on behalf of the Pajarito Mesa Strong Starts for Children planning initiative
-- Date and location of action forum: TBA

On Jan. 24, 2011, these groups and community leaders and residents taking part in this initiative, as well as state legislators, will join the "Strong Starts for Children Policy Forum" at the La Fonda on the Plaza hotel in Santa Fe from 4-8 p.m. The forum will celebrate the work achieved in this fall's Strong Starts for Children's dialogues and action forums, and begin to link this work to New Mexico's policy agenda for early childhood development.

Everyday Democracy, a national nonprofit organization, is leading the Strong Starts for Children initiative. The organization is working closely with the Family Development Program and the rest of the groups to help them bring all kinds of people in their communities to talk, work and take action together on early childhood development issues. Everyday Democracy's work in the Albuquerque area is part of the "Our Voices, Our Children" New Mexico-based initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. With the Kellogg Foundation's generous support, Everyday Democracy will provide funding, coaching and training for the five groups.

The Family Development Program (FDP) is a statewide outreach program of UNM's College of Education. Our mission is to strengthen early childhood education through strong partnerships between families and teachers so that children thrive. FDP has long-standing community relationships throughout New Mexico and in the metro Albuquerque area rooted in values of cultural reciprocity and trust. FDP, together with the Decade of the Child (DoC), as a statewide coalition that unites many advocacy groups, is prepared to take a firm stand that declares that the new decade – 2010 to 2020 – will be a transformative era for lasting social change.