October Spotlight Winner!

Friday, October 05, 2018 6:59 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

Dorothy Thomas

Dorothy is the Chair, for CHILD Center for Early Learning and the Organizer, for Campaign for a Children’s Trust of Alachua County.

Prior to moving to Gainesville, Dorothy practiced law in New York City. After having children, she retired from practicing law and ultimately moved to Gainesville. As her children entered pre-school, she needed a good way to use her free time and began volunteering at SWAG (Southwest Advocacy Group). She eventually became the chair of SWAG, a group whose mission is to bring resources to an underserved, low-income area in southwest Gainesville. Her involvement with SWAG eventually led her to spearhead the creation of the CHILD Center, an early learning center designed to serve low income families. The CHILD Center is a collaboration between SWAG, UF’s Zucker Center, O2B Kids and Head Start, with support from the Early Learning Coalition and Alachua County. Not only does the CHILD Center provide high-quality early learning for children ages 0-5, it has a family engagement program, and is the hub of a model demonstration center whereby UF’s early learning experts have a platform to provide professional development to early learning professionals across the county.

Dorothy's experiences with the CHILD Center led her to see the great need for a more collaborative and coordinated way to serve our county’s children. After looking at how children are best served across Florida, the idea of establishing a children’s services council (CSC) for Alachua County emerged. The creation of such councils is governed by Florida statute and can only be created by voters. CSCs provide funding exclusively for children’s programing, separate and apart from what is provided in the schools. "A true grassroots campaign has emerged, and we are hopeful that we can create this very type of council in this county by passing a referendum on the November 6 election ballot (Local Issue #1). If successful, our CSC will be called the Children’s Trust of Alachua County." The money/programs will be overseen by a totally independent board, and can fund things like early learning programs, after school programs, home visits to new moms by nurses, literacy efforts, and mental health and wellbeing programs (and much more!).

You can learn more about SWAG and the CHILD Center at www.swadvocacygroup.org or on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/SWAdvocacyGroupSWAG and www.facebook.com/CHILD-Center-for-Early-
Learning.

You can learn more about the Campaign for a Children’s Trust at
www.childrenstrustofalachuacounty.org or on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/CampaignForChildrensTrust/O


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