All in for NC Kids: Q&A With Yadkin County’s Jessica Wall

May 10, 2019 – The Early Childhood Action Plan for North Carolina launched in February with a vision to support the state’s young children so they grow up healthy in safe and nurturing families, schools and communities. The plan sets forth 10 bold, measurable goals – spanning health, child welfare and wellbeing, and early learning – to achieve through collective statewide action by the year 2025. 

Reaching the goals in the plan will require innovative thinking and building on great work happening across the state. As one way of helping the state drive toward the plan’s goals, NCDHHS is sharing how leaders and advocates across the state are supporting young children in their communities. To recommend someone to be featured in a Q&A, send an email to ECAP@dhhs.nc.gov.

In this Q&A, Jessica Wall, the assistant director of the Yadkin County Human Services Agency, discusses the ongoing efforts in Yadkin County to support young children and how their work aligns with the state’s Early Childhood Action Plan.
 
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do in your role?

I serve as the administrator over the county’s health programs including child health, maternal health, communicable disease, family planning, immunization, health education and WIC. 

Jessica Wall.

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Wall, assistant director of the Yadkin County Human Services Agency.

Why is focusing on early childhood important to you? Why are you #Allin4NCkids?

I believe all the children in our county deserve a good and equal start at a successful life. I believe that focusing on things that make children successful will help them and their families and the supporting community. These children will be our community members and leaders and I hope that by showing them we care, and supporting them now, they become successful adults that stay and give back to their community. 

Why is focusing on early childhood important to Yadkin County?

The current focus in Yadkin County is on growing strong families that lead to these children deciding to stay here to work and live and raise their own families. Building these strong early childhoods is like laying the foundation for that long-term goal. 

Describe the work Yadkin County has done in support of young children. How did this work get started? What has kept it going? What’s next? 

Yadkin County has an Early Education Advocacy group that meets monthly. This is a great mixture of all types of human service agency representatives such as the Health Department, Department of Social Services, our local Smart Start, the schools, Head Start, our local nonprofit Community Action Agency, our local private/non-profit human services agency, public health case managers, faith representatives, and others. 

This group came together after some members participated in a racial equity training in 2015. Those folks were interested in continuing the conversation and the work of creating equality in school success. We meet monthly to share concerns and ideas and to plan small events like speaking engagements, film screenings or lunch-and-learns. The group has a genuine desire to see the children in our county learn and grow and be successful. I believe this brings folks back to the table each month. We plan to adopt the NC Early Childhood Action plan as our local plan. And we intend to use the plan as a both a blueprint for execution and a measurement of success. 

If another county wanted to change outcomes for young children, what advice would you give them to get started? 

There must be an agency willing to stand up and say the work needs to be done, and then invite and gather the key stakeholders. For us, this was Smart Start of Yadkin County. 

Once the group is together, there needs to be a clear vision and mission of the group. What are you going to achieve and how are you going to get there? Who do you need at the table to do that? Be honest with yourself and each other in these areas. 

We hope that we can use the NC Early Childhood Action Plan to get our group further motivated with action and measurement. I would suggest having something of that nature that encourages you to move forward in action and something to measure yourself by. Seeing the needle move is motivating. On that note, that last thing would be motivation. Make sure people are getting something from their participation and feel like their involvement means something. 

Do you want to share what your community is doing and how they are #Allin4NCkids? Email us at ECAP@dhhs.nc.gov.