Tuesday, August 04, 2020
49.0°F

Flathead Best Beginnings offers free resource for families

by Whitney England
Daily Inter Lake | May 27, 2020 1:00 AM

In many communities there can be a major lack in connecting available resources to families in need, and Flathead Best Beginnings Community Council has a goal to bring all community-based organizations that serve children and families together.

Recently the council partnered with several other Best Beginnings organizations in various communities across the state to bring families in the Flathead Valley a new free resource called Bright By Text. This program, which is already established in several places across the country, brings parents and caregivers developmental resources for children prenatal through eight years old effortlessly through their cellphones.

“The program is proven to build nurturing caregiver-child relationships and positively impact a child’s healthy development and school readiness,” a press release reads.

Upon signing up for Bright By Text, users will first send in the birth dates of their children and a ZIP code of their primary location. The program uses this information to send age-specific tips, activities and child development materials to caregivers, and it uses the location details to send reminders of children’s events happening in the Flathead.

Bright By Text will send two to five text messages per week with valuable developmental content and recipients can click on the link in the message for a detailed description and video of the activity, as well as references to the original expert resource.

Flathead Best Beginnings’ mission is to build a comprehensive, coordinated early childhood system to meet the needs of families with young children. They are one of 20-plus early childhood coalitions in Montana and assist with issues such as school transitions, family engagement and maternal mental health. According to a Flathead Best Beginnings facilitator Ned Cooney, Bright by Text will further support that mission by providing a simple communication system that allows them to promote worthy local organizations, events and family friendly activities.

“We can reach people in specific ZIP codes or the whole county easily, through texts on your phone,” Cooney said. “It doesn’t take downloading a new app or getting a new password… By promoting our member organizations and other community resources in a coordinated manner, we are advancing our goal of supporting young children and their families.”

Flathead Best Beginnings hopes this new resource connects families with valuable learning advice that they can apply in their own homes, especially now during the coronavirus pandemic. Many parents and children are stuck at home and the organization states that Bright By Text can help facilitate indoor activity ideas that promote early literacy and brain development appropriate to each child’s age.

“In normal times, Bright by Text helps caregivers interact with their kids during everyday moments, so now those activities and tips are even more valuable as everyone has had more time at home,” Cooney explained.

As the state rolls into phase two of Gov. Bullock’s reopening plan, the program will also keep users up to date on which family events are occurring and those that are being rescheduled or canceled.

This is only one of the resources now offered by Flathead Best Beginnings. The organization has a website full of content mostly focused on early childhood development. According to the information provided on their website, about 85 percent of the human brain develops during the first three years of life; this makes it critical to provide numerous experiences to all children.

“During this crucial developmental time, young children form the ‘wiring’ needed to think, communicate, move and form attachments with those around them,” Flathead Best Beginnings explained via online content. “Children who have nurturing, healthy and supportive experiences in their early years are much better prepared to succeed in school and life.”

For those interested in the Bright By Text program or their various other resources, visit flatheadbestbeginnings.org.

Reporter Whitney England may be reached at wengland@dailyinterlake.com