The state of Texas Thursday recognized the Navarro County Early Childhood Coalition with the Outstanding Community Collaboration Award. The Coalition consists of more than 50 daycare owners and directors, teachers, school counselors, nonprofit employees and local officials. 

The award honors the partnership because it has gone above and beyond to work together to support children and families and strengthen early childhood outcomes. It was presented to the Coalition’s co-chairs, Rachel Gillespie of Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services and Lynda Sloan, the former CEO of VOICE, Inc. Now retired, Sloan is known regionally for her leadership in early childhood education.

Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services is a United Way agency that has served local families since 2000 through its Child and Family program. Last year it created the Growing Together program for families with children under the age of six. 

“The goal of Growing Together is to promote safety and well-being for young children,” stated Gillespie, the program director. “We teach parenting skills so that children have a stronger foundation for healthy emotional behavior and brain development." 

With the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” in mind, Gillespie and Sloan initiated the Coalition last January. The members collaborate to improve children’s safety, health, connection and school readiness.

Already the Coalition has created:

Two free guides, Stay at Home and Summer at Home, to assist families during the COVID-19 crisis 

A webinar for professionals, exploring local statistics and issues in early childhood development

Three virtual presentations for caregivers about water safety, car seat safety and home safety 

A taskforce to support daycares with funding and supplies during the COVID quarantine

Currently the Coalition is installing a dozen Little Free Libraries to promote literacy in adults and children. Its next virtual meeting is at 10 a.m. Nov. 12. 

More information about the Navarro County Early Childhood Coalition is available at and at 903-229-4853. For details about Growing Together, call 903 874-2517 or email

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