Policy Resource

Alaska's Best Beginnings

Sep 1, 2017

The Best Beginnings Early Learning Council was established in 2006 to oversee implementation of Alaska’s Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force recommendations, and includes former task force members and others who are committed and passionate about ensuring all Alaska children begin school ready to succeed.

Major funders include: Providence Health & Services, Alaska, United Way of Anchorage, AT&T, Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation, the Carr Foundation, the CIRI Foundation, ConocoPhillips, Credit Union 1, UA College Savings Plan, and Wells Fargo.

Best Beginnings has four key objectives:

  • Parents and extended family are engaged in their children’s learning from birth on.
  • Alaskans know that early learning and literacy are important to society.
  • Alaskans understand that investments in early learning pay big dividends to the state as a whole.
  • Sufficient funds are committed “from public and private sources“ to ensure that every Alaska child has the opportunity to begin school ready to succeed.

The Best Beginnings Board of Directors identified the following priorities, which all support the original recommendations made by the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force.

  1. Imagination Library: Best Beginnings is the statewide umbrella organization for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, working closely with participating communities and technical assistance partners to create or expand Imagination Libraries in Alaska. Imagination Library mails a high quality, age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age 5. As of July 2017, 18,970 children across Alaska (35% of children in Alaska) were enrolled in the program.

  2. Early Childhood Partnerships: Best Beginnings is piloting early childhood partnerships in locations around Alaska, in order to build a comprehensive early childhood network.

  3. Public Engagement: To encourage all Alaskans to join the effort to ensure all children begin school ready to succeed, Best Beginnings has undertaken a multi-channel media campaign.

  4. Babies on Track Video and Companion Baby Board Books: Best Beginnings produced Babies on Track, a 14-minute DVD for parents, along with two baby board books: Our Alaska Family (photographs of baby faces) and Let’s Talk Alaska! (Alaska objects). Using delightful images of Alaska babies on location around the state, the video and books foster early learning and healthy brain development at home in easy, convenient ways.

  5. StoryTRACKS: Imagine a path lined with sign posts, and on each sign is a page from a children’s picture book. As your family moves along “walking, biking, strolling“ you and your children can read the story. Reading, Nature, and healthy activity“ combined!

  6. Multilingual Early Learning Activity Guides: In 2007, the Alaska Children’s Trust awarded Best Beginnings a 4-year grant to produce family-friendly activity guides based on the ELGs, in languages other than English.

  7. Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS): Best Beginnings developed a QRIS for Alaska, which provides the framework for a standards-based early care and learning system for out-of-home programs. The next step is a field test.

  8. Early Learning System: Best Beginnings works with partners in both the private and public sectors to develop a culturally-responsive, comprehensive and accessible statewide early childhood system that empowers families, inks service providers, and engages communities on behalf of young children.

Learn more about Best Beginnings work on their blog.

Updated July 2017

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