The Early Childhood Partnership’s focus is on helping children reach their full potential, through programs and services supporting local childcare providers, educators, parents, caregivers and families. Since its creation in 2009, ECP has engaged agency representatives across the early childhood education and advocacy spectrum in facilitating learning, social connections, resource-sharing and play. Past efforts include: hosting the Diving Deeper Conference for childcare providers; the Golden Apple Awards; playground equipment grants; free family play times at the Menard Center, and distributing books, activities and materials to promote literacy for families.

After a short period of dormancy, ECP returned to the community in 2019 with revitalized programming and continued to support local childcare providers, advocacy efforts and collaborations.

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Meals for Mat-Su Littles

In a 2020 survey of over a dozen local childcare centers, the ECP coordinator was stunned to learn that, according to childcare administrators, over 400 Mat-Su little ones are estimated to be food insecure. That meant hundreds of local kids who are observed by their daycare providers to lack access to nutritious food over the weekends, when center-served meals are unavailable.

ECP, along with generous support from community donors and Mat-Su Health Foundation, launched its Meals for Mat-Su Littles program in the fall of 2020. Over a 6 month period, many dedicated volunteers from around the Valley, and partnering childcare providers, came together to pack and deliver sacks of fun, nutritious snacks to local daycare-aged children in need.At its conclusion on May 26, 2021, the Meals for Mat-Su Littles program has delivered over 4,000 individual snack sacks to over 500 Valley little ones (bimonthly) in need. ECP extends a heartfelt THANK YOU to all volunteers whose hard work made this program so successful and impactful. We would also like to thank the Alaska State Fair for generously allowing us to use the Hoskins Exhibit Hall, and Salvation Army Mat-Su for all their help.

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As the mother of a traumatized child who uses food as a security I was so happy for her to have these! She loves the options and LOVED sharing the things she didn’t like. I feel like it made her feel secure enough to share 🙂 Thank you!
We appreciated the snack bags so much and grew to depend on them! Thank you for choosing such healthy options. We even had some gluten free stuff that was greatly appreciated…
These snacks have been excellent specially after school and on the weekends. They provide me more time to make a better meal for my kids.
This program helped me so much this year especially during the 5 months that my food benefits were delayed so food was scarce. Thank you so much for this program.
These snack sacks were a LIFE SAVER! Single mama of 3 kiddos. Bills add up! It helped with snacks, additions to meals, and made for awesome on the go breakfasts.
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In 2019, ECP obtained a sponsorship from Mat-Su Health Foundation to support a free, weekly Play Time at the Borough Gym! Begun during the winter months, Play Time evolved as a collaboration between ECP and the Palmer Parents’ Group, a gathering of local parents and neighbors who observed a lack of accessible, affordable options for families with small children in the Palmer core area.

The first free Play Time yielded over 60 children ages 5 and under! Play Time provided a safe, warm space for families to gather, creating social connections between parents and fostering social-emotional learning, active play, and creative play among children. According to our sign-in rosters, families have traveled from as far as Sutton, Chugiak, and Meadow Lakes to attend. We are so grateful for the amazing success of this program in 2019. ECP and Palmer Parents’ Group hope to revive Play Time in the near future.

If you are interested in becoming an ECP donor or sponsor to support programs like Meals for Mat-Su Littles, call Michele Harmeling at 907-745-5824 or email admin@unitedwaymatsu.org.