Charaine Boyd, MA
MIECHV Community Systems Development Coordinator, Winnebago County Health Department
Healthy Starts A-Team
Bio and Professional Experience
I was born and raised in Rockford and attended Northern Illinois and Judson University. My desire after graduating from college was to work with young children in a teaching capacity. I did so for a short time, however, the majority of my professional career has been in the public sector with over twenty years in local government and in the school system. I still have a love for government; watching the dynamics of politics, and a greater interest in how organizations lead and function.
I currently work in the public sector, but perform work of a different nature. At the Winnebago County Health Department, I work as Community Systems Development (CSD) Coordinator for an evidence-based Home Visiting Collaborative called Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), also called iGrow! I am constantly asked what my position entails. Simply put, a Community Systems position usually engage people (or organizations) who have an impact on systems to function optimally and more enhanced. In this position, I continually meet so many wonderful and interesting people. One thing that I have discovered is that often times people get caught up in their own world and tend to forget that interconnectedness can enhance what they do. If one believes things are going well without outside resources and connections, then they have not fully recognized the power and richness partnerships and collaboration may bring. Systems and people work better connected as a whole; making a greater impact, rather than working separately and fragmented.
I enjoy reading, walking and watching my nearly two year-old grandson learn, grow and develop. I am constantly amazed at how babies digest and process information. Recently, I nearly flipped when he held one finger up and said “I’ll be back”. He actually left the room and returned as if he knew one finger actually meant for a minute!
How did you get involved with Alignment Rockford?
I got involved with the Alignment Rockford Healthy Starts Team as part of the systems building work being done with the local Home visiting Collaborative. The goal and mission of Healthy Starts is closely aligned with the work and mission of the Home visiting program.
Shortly after my involvement, I was invited to attend Alignment Nashville in Nashville, TN. It was a unique opportunity and experience to see schools and community strategically plan and work in unison to achieve a common goal. You could actually feel the excitement, passion and energy as we observed meetings and actionable activities. I often reflect on the time in Nashville, and recall the feeling of a ‘united mission’ and a ‘sense of urgency’ in moving forward more than anything else.
Most people within the community are aware of the work being done within the High School Academies however many may not be aware of Alignment Rockford’s focus on early childhood. Could you tell us a little about the Healthy Starts team you are a member of and why it is important for the health and development of our students and community?
I followed the Rockford School District in the developmental stages of College and Career Readiness. It was very needed and timely. I absolutely believe in the framework and scope of what it does to help students transition beyond high school. It gives them the best chance to succeed in learning and in life. I was pleased to be a part of Alignment Rockford Healthy Starts Team. Our work makes an impact at the earliest and most important stage, not only in readiness, but in the health and development of the child which is where it all begins.
Healthy Starts makes an investment by working for parents and students at a young age where the greatest impact can be made. Parents have the most influence on their child and are empowered more than they believe. They are the true experts when it comes to the individuality and uniqueness of their child, but many lack tools, resources and guidance.
One of our accomplishments was to develop a brochure: Ready, Set, Kindergarten! The brochure is an excellent guide for parents in developing and gauging their child’s readiness and what they can do to aide in their child’s growth. Areas such as, social/emotional, physical development, literacy and numeracy are covered. The brochure is also a community-wide effort as we are enlisting community supporters in the production and distribution. Information such as this is not always available and accessible to some parents, so our focus will be to get this brochure out to organizations and providers across the community. Knowing that early learning is enriched with a wealth of experiences, we are currently working on a continuum of experiences that children need from birth to Kindergarten.
How can you suggest community members new to Alignment Rockford support these efforts?
The Alignment Rockford Healthy Starts team consists of a diverse group of early childhood professionals, leaders, stakeholders, and community members who share a strong interest and commitment in the well-being and success of our children birth to 5. We want to help lay the foundation to foster positive growth for our children and recognize the value of equipping families with the tools and resources needed to excel.
Anyone can engage, serve on the team, or help in some way. An Invitation to Participate (ITP) is a fast-track method organizations can support our children that makes a big impact. When signed up, you can receive an invitation to take part in something that will undoubtedly make a difference.
Alignment Rockford has become a national recognized model for other communities in a short period of time. It is exciting when other communities can learn from us. That says not only a lot about who we are, but the impact Alignment Rockford has made engaging our community.