RCN Advocacy

The RCN staff are devoted advocates for children's education and care.  Here are a collection of some of the thoughts and resources around these issues.


Advocacy Day February 2014



On Monday, February 10th, RCN’s Lynn Lubecki and Nancy Consol travelled to Albany with a group of local members of the statewide coalition, Winning Beginning New York, to inform policy makers about the benefits of quality early care and learning.  They met with Assembly Members Harry Bronson, Mark Johns, and Senator Ted O’Brien as well as aides Richard Conti, Becky Merril, Kyle Ketcham, Nick Thony, Nichole Malec, and Beth Kempter to discuss increasing the investment in Universal Childcare and Afterschool programs, universal access of high quality, full-day Pre-Kindergarten, Early Intervention, and Home Visiting programs.  Each of these programs is evidence based, proven to increase child learning outcomes.  Investment in quality early learning and intervention saves tax dollars over the long haul.

To become more familiar with the issues discussed, go to: http://www.winningbeginningny.org/advocacy/documents/wbny_legislativeagenda_2014_001.pdf


Advocacy Day in Albany, February 10th!

Rochester Childfirst Network leaders, teachers, and parents will join our community friends from ECDI (Early Childhood Development Initiative) to advocate for appropriate funding for our youngest citizens in Albany, NY. For more information, contact ECDI.
Vision: Every child in Greater Rochester has the foundation to succeed in school and in life.  To make this vision a reality.
The Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI)’s mission is to:
  • §  Mobilize the community to expand and improve developmentally appropriate early care and education;
  • §  Serve as a catalyst for change by promoting significant, broad-based and steadfast community commitment to improving the quantity and accessibility of quality early care and education; and
  • §   


Focus - Children, prenatal through age eight, and their families; families with few resources and supports are the highest priority.


Business Leaders Weigh in on the Importance of Early Education

Watch the It's our Business video.



Executive Leadership Outlook

Summer 2012

Giving our Children
the Gift of Emotional Intelligence

By Noreen Boje, Executive Director/CEO and Michelle Butler, Board Chair

Early in our history, when RCN was known as the Industrial School, the focus was on “drawing children through the doors and transforming them into useful citizens with a good education” (Rosenberg-Naparsteck, 2006, p. 9).  Today RCN is still focused on this mission, but is executing it with an even broader definition of what a successful outcome is for a child. We share the ultimate desire of each of our parents – that for our children are happy, secure, using their full potential and equipped to handle any challenges ahead.

RCN uses the HighScope curriculum, which offers child centered, active participatory learning in which the adult is a facilitator for a child to build his/her knowledge through meaningful experiences and interactions. This is truly the way we all learn! This curriculum enables classroom teachers to move children away from rote learning and emphasize critical thinking within a social context.

The social context is key. Early experiences are central to developing “neural pathways” in the brain that shape behavior, ways of thinking, reactions and influence emotions. In addition to HighScope, programs at RCN are incorporating a higher awareness of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence builds from the ability to perceive the emotions of others, as well as one’s own feelings. It progresses to using emotions to guide thinking and actions. Even at a young age, we can build the foundation so that our children can (a) persist, even when frustrated; (b) monitor their feelings; (c) read other’s feelings; (d) control strong reactions that result in poor outcomes; (e) improve ability to get along with others by choosing behaviors that blends their personal needs, the needs of others and consider the best outcome for all involved.

Why is this important? The answer is simple: To prepare our children to thrive in the 21st Century, they will need to navigate complex social interactions and engage in socially oriented thinking while controlling impulses and strong emotions. These skills are central to life satisfaction, success in relationships and at work, and in promoting a peaceful, thoughtful and gentler community. What a powerful thought! The seeds are being sown here at RCN.

Introductory information about helping children develop emotional intelligence can be found at http://www.parenting-child-development.com/emotional-intelligence.html.

Spring 2011

RCN's Committment To Young Mothers and Their Babies

by Marsha Dumka, Past Executive Director and Andrea Zuegel, Past Board Chair

In Rochester there is a common challenge facing many young mothers growing up in poverty – how to make a better life for themselves and their children. Our Nurturing Communities Program at RCN has completed its first year pilot project, assisting these young mothers to navigate many complex systems – enrolling in college, caring for their baby’s physical and developmental needs and making sure they have adequate food and shelter. Several years in the making, the collaborative effort between Rochester Childfirst Network (RCN), Jim Coffey (founder of 292 Baby), Monroe Community College, Monroe County and Golisano Children’s Hospital celebrated the start of year 2 with a well-attended Community Open House.

The educational/training component helps move these young mothers towards employment in the field of child care. With 3 years of RCN work experience and a Child Development Associates certificate and/or an associate’s degree our staff mom’s have marketable skills that qualify them for a position in the child care field.

 “This Program has made me actually have goals, it’s made me stay on track and focused on what is really important. My motivation is knowing I am part of something wonderful that will benefit me and my children now and in the future.” Alicia, NC Staff Mom

Research shows us that 75% of brain growth occurs before the age of five, with 85% of social skills, vocabulary and intellect also developing at this very early age. Nurturing Communities is designed to maximize the opportunity for babies to develop early literacy skills including vocabulary and problem solving, as well as forming “secure attachments” with their mothers by providing the child with a strong social and emotional foundation in the first years of life. 

Although this program is intense and takes a strong commitment and hard work by the staff mothers the investment in time and effort is priceless as it relates to their future success. In these challenging times where dollars are becoming scarcer, we are proud to have completed this year of piloting an innovative program, combining pre-existing public funding sources, with private donations in a model that does not exist anywhere else. Congratulations to the staff, volunteers and mom’s for the tremendous growth and accomplishments over this first year! 

If you missed our Open House in early March, please let us know and we can supply more information about Nurturing Communities or set up a tour for you. 

Fall 2010

by Marsha Dumka, Past Executive Director and Andrea Zuegel, Past Board Chair

A Child Who Starts Behind, Stays Behind…

Education is not only the key to future success in life; it is also the cornerstone of our democracy. Children, who learn to be thoughtful, confident adults, will be able to better evaluate the role of their government. RCN’s mission embraces the belief that every child has the right to the best education available. As supporters of RCN you know that with this comes the strongest guarantee for success that a child has.  

That said, the Rochester community has a high percentage of children living in poverty, which directly affects their chance for good education. We know that if a child starts behind, they stay behind:

500-1,100 words: The difference in the size of a three year old’s vocabulary, between a child living in poverty and low literacy versus a child living in middle class with high literacy.

700: The number of new neural connections that should be forming every second in a young child’s brain. These connections are the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health.

200%: The jump in a child’s likelihood of attending college, when he or she attends a quality early care program such as RCN’s.

RCN continues to close the achievement gap for disadvantaged children as our classrooms consistently score in the highest range of classroom assessments. As a community, we need well-educated problem solvers, who can read between the lines of a book, on the internet and in daily conversation. These future leaders will make the best decisions for themselves and their communities. As we emerge from election season, with many tough choices facing us daily, it becomes even more apparent that our children need to develop the skills to become a voice for themselves and of those around them. Your support for RCN helps to build a stronger community, and give every child the opportunity to not be left behind. Thank you for engaging with us in being a voice for positive change.