More than 40 organizations in Dodge and Jefferson counties have signed a pledge to build a strong, resilient community by working together to create positive experiences for children.

The effort is part of Every Child Thrives, a partnership of organizations working to ensure all children thrive in health, learning and life.

“Ninety percent of a child’s brain development happens over the first five years of life,” said Tina Crave, president and CEO of the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation, which provides backbone support to Every Child Thrives. “Positive early experiences — like talking, reading and playing — help children develop important social and emotional skills, laying a solid foundation for success in learning and life.”

Crave said positive experiences also help to mitigate the adversity that some children face.

“Exposure to trauma or environments of unrelenting stress can impact a child’s developing communication, problem-solving and relationship skills,” she said. “Fortunately, positive experiences, especially responsive, caring relationships with adults, help children develop resilience to overcome adversity.”

Community partners agree, and for that reason have pledged to understand and address the effects of trauma, and to build the protective factors that support a strong, resilient community where children and families thrive.

The following organizations have signed a joint pledge, committing to the effort: Badgerland After School Enrichment Program (BASE); Big Brothers Big Sisters of South-Central Wisconsin; Calvary Baptist Christian School Church Health Services; City of Watertown, all departments; Community Care Preschool and Child Care-Beaver Dam; Community Dental Clinic-Jefferson County; Community Pediatrics-Beaver Dam/Waupun; Dodge County Birth to 3/Green Valley Enterprises; Dodge County Human Services & Health Department; Dodgeland School District; Fort HealthCare; Future All Star’s Academy; The Gathering Source; Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation; Hanrahan Law Offices; Hero’s Café; Hustisford Community Library; Hustisford Police Department; Hustisford School District; Hustisford Soccer Club;

Also, Jefferson County Circuit Court; Jefferson County Head Start; Jefferson County Health Department; Jefferson County Human Services Department; Juneau Public Library; Karl Junginger Memorial Library, Waterloo; Kiddie Kampus; Kingdom Workers; Lake Mills Area School District; School District of Jefferson; St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School; University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension; Waterloo School District; Watertown Area YMCA; Watertown Family Center; Watertown Family Practice; Watertown Public Library; Watertown Regional Medical Center; Watertown Unified School District; Willows Christian Child Care Center 4-C (Community Coordinated Child Care).

“We are humbled that so many partners have stepped up and made a commitment to this effort,” said Kathi Cauley, director of Jefferson County Human Services and member of Every Child Thrives. “By signing the pledge, these organizations have committed to educating their staff on brain development and the impacts of trauma, while identifying ways they can help children become resilient.”

Any agency, organization, school, church or business within Dodge and Jefferson County is invited to pledge support for this initiative.

Organizations that pledge will become part of a local learning community, receiving support from Every Child Thrives partners on a shared journey to build resilience by strengthening positive protective factors.

For more information and/or to make a pledge, visit watertownhealthfoundation.com.

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