Core Principles

In our community’s strategic framework, the core values that inform how we will pursue change are equally as important as the strategies we pursue. These principles define how each strategy should be designed, implemented, and evaluated, to ensure it achieves sustainable impact, while shifting power dynamics so that everyone has a place at the table.

  • A holistic view of children and families: The physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of children are all connected and all important. Success for our children is dependent on and interrelated to their family and community context, and the relationships that surround them.
  • The power of interconnected community systems: We will work together – not in silos. By implementing strong cross-agency/organization collaboration, coordination, and integration we can meet the entire range of needs of families in an effective and responsive manner. We will hold ourselves accountable for achieving community-level outcomes.
  • The rights of all children to access equitable opportunities: Equity is the just and fair inclusion into a society where all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. It is not enough to understand that there are disparities among children and families, we must actively pursue transformative change (in policies, practices, and resource flows) to eliminate inequities, including those created by structural racism, sexism, able-ism, poverty, and other forms of systemic exclusion and discrimination. We know that a more equitable society will be better for everyone, and is necessary for creating a healthy, safe, thriving County.
  • Culturally responsive and trauma-informed practices: High levels of trauma affect individual children, families, and neighborhoods. We will use child and family focused approaches to care and services in which the cultural strengths of the child, parent, and family are identified and nurtured to promote the well-being of children, families, and communities. Culturally responsive and reflective practices will be implemented at the personal, institutional, and policy level.
  • Co-creating solutions: We believe in working with, for and by children and families – creating systems and practices that enable authentic community leadership of individual and community-wide change processes. We believe it is essential that community voice is at the table while programs are being designed, implemented, and evaluated to ensure they are effective in meeting their needs and are sustained. All strategies will reflect our local context and respond to local priorities, cultures, and needs.
  • A tenacious focus on results: About 20 babies are born each day in Monterey County – this means 20 new people and families whose life outcomes we are committed to supporting and whose rights we will defend! We measure our success not in terms of dollars spent or actions taken, but by real change in families’ lives that have a tangible impact on children’s well-being.
  • Informed by research: Good intentions are not enough! We will use the best available research, evidence and local data to identify needs, evaluate change, and accelerate growth.

Bright Beginnings uses a collective impact approach to support, develop, and initiate early childhood strategies and activities that embrace the following principles based on current research. Projects will use best and emerging practices within the context of community wisdom. Bright Beginnings and its partners, are guided by the following shared understandings:

Principle Current Research Findings Project Approaches
Children are born capable, ready, and eager to learn. From birth a healthy child is an active participant in their growth, actively providing opportunities for them to construct ideas, and theories about how things work. Projects will support children as active participants in their growth.
The first years of a child’s life are a period of extraordinary growth. Children’s brain development in the first five years of their life significantly influences their ability to learn over their lifetime. Projects will focus on working with young children and their families at an early age.
Experiences and relationships matter.  Learning happens in a social context. The quality of relationships that children experience will impact how a child develops and what they learn. Projects will support quality relationships between children and the adults who care for them, as well as with their peers.
Emotional and cognitive developments are interrelated. How children feel affects how they learn. The development of intelligence, language, emotions, and social skills is highly interrelated. How children feel can affect how they learn. Projects will enhance and support emotional and social development as the foundation for the development of cognitive skills.
Parents and caregivers are the child’s “first teachers.” Building on caregiver skills and strengths enhances their capacity to create opportunities for learning. Projects will build on caregiver skills and strengths.
Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begin at the start of life. Exposing children to activities that are integrated across different, but interconnected literacy activities best accomplish strong literacy skills in later years. Projects supporting early literacy and language will engage children in all forms of communication: listening, speaking, singing, reading, drawing, and writing, in the context of strong relationships.
Quality early care is critical to early learning and school readiness and success. High quality early care has a long lasting effect on children’s capacity to learn and long-term academic achievement. Projects will support opportunities for high quality early care and learning.
Early intervention with children with special needs better supports them in building their abilities. Early intervention with children can serve as a cushion against the multiple adverse influences that may hinder their development progress. Projects will support early interventions for children with developmental concerns and/or adverse influences.
Safe and interesting places to explore and play build children’s curiosity, learning, and physical development. Children strive to make sense of the world they live in. An environment can maximize a child’s intellectual potential and provide a foundation for the development of emotional security. Projects will support opportunities for play and exploration for our youngest children.