A compelling reason for action is that 82% of the children in neighborhoods such as Highland Farms, enter school with at least one developmental delay, potentially limiting their success as both a student and as an adult.
These developmental delays can be avoided when:
- Each infant attaches to a caring adult as this is the basis for relationship skills, self-control and wholesome self-security.
- Each infant and child develops language skills through engaged speech as this is the basis for learning to read, communicate, negotiate and plan. (Before entering school children in lower income households typically hear 25% of the words as do children of middle-income households.)
- Caregiver(s) have and accept opportunities for personal grown as children tend to set academic and work goals based on those of their primary caregiver(s), most likely the mother.
- The neighborhood is a safe and nurturing place to grow.
- All understand self-regulation is the best predictor of school and life success and work to increase this quality in themselves and the children.
In the near future, an infant specialist will join the TakeCare team and begin assisting caregivers. The opening of Tommy’s Place will expand these services. In the meantime, attention is focused on the environment and increasing the safety of the neighborhood. Currently, abandoned homes are play places for many of the children exposing them to harm.
Highland Farms has a strong legacy with many successful citizens as proof. For many reasons, the neighborhood has experienced a decline. Of the 550+ individual homes, 29 seem to need to be abolished with a list of 30 more at risk. There are 250 apartment units plus an abandoned apartment complex. Many lots are overgrown and/or adjudicated. Assisting the neighborhood to address these issues and to get back on the path of sustainability is the current focus with many neighbors involved in the process.
While reducing crime was high on the needs list of the neighbors, this neighborhood has the lowest incidence of reported crimes in the city. Highland Farms has a tradition of taking care of itself, but neighbors agree that method alone doesn’t work today. Efforts are underway to strengthen relationships with area police.
Before forming the Neighborhood Council: Opportunities for All with a Focus on Caregivers and Children 0-7 years, listening and interviewing are important steps to ensure the programs and responses selected meet the greatest needs. While job training will be included in the programs, current best practice says entrepreneurial opportunities are better entry pathways for those who have not been engaged in the work-force. Current plans include individual as well as shared gardens that provide fresh products for homes as well as for sale in the neighborhood grocery. Raising bees and producing honey is an option, and discussions are starting to determine local specialties that could become products. Though all of this will take time, the first steps are being taken.