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Engaging Young Children and Their Families
Our Inspiring Jewish Connections in Families with Young Children Initiative will have an impact on tens of thousands of families, in addition to our continued support of the 5,000 children enrolled in Jewish early childhood programs.
Our newest major initiative responds to the significant challenges we face in drawing families with young children into our community. When a parent has a child, he/she often begins thinking about heritage in new ways. This is a critical developmental phase of life, and it offers significant opportunities to engage and educate both parents and children.
As a vital cornerstone of the Greater Washington Jewish community, preschools serve as “day schools” for our youngest children -- addressing emotional and academic development, building Jewish identity and becoming portals for engaging young families. However, 70% of young Jewish children in Greater Washington do not currently attend our schools and full day child care centers, and this number will grow significantly in the coming years. The development of new approaches to welcoming families with young children is now a top priority of the Partnership.
- The Partnership has done extensive research around the country, examining what other communities are doing within and beyond the Jewish world. We have engaged numerous focus groups comprised of both affiliated and unaffiliated families with young children, and assessed what is currently available in Jewish institutions in the Greater Washington area.
- Our research indicates that parents want to be connected to Jewish life and to increase their own Jewish knowledge, as well as that of their children, but many do not find the current offerings compelling.
- We are developing programs which will strengthen existing institutions, as well as reach out to families by engaging them in their homes -- through family based programming, on the internet, as well as in public spaces to which they have easy access.
- We also assist early childhood programs in accommodating the special needs of our youngest learners in their inclusive settings and help families find the right match for their child.
For more information about this initiative, contact Mara Bier at email@example.com or 240-283-6200.