EXCEL By 5 prepares for quarterly meeting
by Paisley Boston
Jan 14, 2014 | 1716 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EXCEL By 5 is set to host a regional community site meeting to discuss the "child friendly" community certification process.

The meeting will be held at the Bolivar County Extension Service Office on Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

"It is one of EXCEL By 5's quarterly community meetings. It's a time for the communities within the Northern region of the state to come together and try to share various things that are going on within the community and give updates," said Sites Coordinator Mechelle Wallace.

According to Wallace the meeting is a great way for EXCEL By 5 to offer technical assistance and provide communities with networking opportunities.

A community's certification lasts for three years and it has to meet specific requirements before it is certified "child friendly."

"This meeting is one of the required meetings that community coalition members must attend in order to receive certification," Wallace said.

"It is a way for us to follow up with communities and help them to identify areas that they are having the most difficulty," she added.

Cleveland was one of the first Delta communities that certified by Excel By 5 and according to Certification Manager Patsy Clerk, the Cleveland Coalition estimates that the city will be certified again by May 2014.

Wallace said Cleveland is the only certified "child friendly" community and the towns of Alligator, Duncan, Beulah and Gunnison are currently candidate communities.

In order for a community to qualify, it has to host various community wide events and workshops that focus on school readiness, health issues and family support.

The certification process identifies available resources and existing best practices to help Excel By 5 — Early Childhood Communities reach the goal that all of their children will be ready to learn when they start school at age five.

The coalition uses surveys to aid with planning events and workshops.

The meeting is for coalition members only.

In a previous interview, Clerk said that the Cleveland Coalition recruits volunteers under four areas of focus for Excel By 5 — community involvement, family and parent support, early care and education, and health.

Excel By 5 is a community-based certification designed to improve a child's overall well being by age five. 

It is the first-of-its-kind in the United States, this program emphasizes the important roles communities play in educating children during their most formative years —birth to five. 

The program was initially funded with a grant from Chevron, Excel By 5 is currently working with twenty-nine communities throughout the state of Mississippi including Alligator, Beulah, Biloxi, Central Clarke County, Cleveland, Corinth/Alcorn County, Duncan, Gulfport, Gunnison, Hancock County, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Indianola, Isola, Lafayette County, Lee County, McComb, Mid-Jackson, Moss Point, New Albany/Union County, North Madison County, Oktibbeha County, Pascagoula, Petal, Pontotoc County, Ripley, Senatobia, Stone County, and West Point.

Excel By 5 sets forth a variety of standards involving parent training, community participation, childcare and health to help communities focus on supporting young children and their families.