Thursday, April 15, 2021


CONTACT: Debra Harris-Bowyer, Cabell County Family Resource Network Coordinator |

P: 304.697.0255 | E:


CONTACT: Kaylin R. Staten, APR, Hourglass Media | P: 304.900.2833 |



Cabell County cited as ‘Early Learning Community’

Cabell County FRN, partners take actionable steps to help local families, children thrive


HUNTINGTON — Cabell County is focused on early learning and ensuring families and children have what they need.


Since 2020, Cabell County Family Resource Network and a multitude of local partners have worked on building upon early-learning foundations through the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Early Learning Nation framework.


Coined as a pilot “Early Learning Community,” Cabell County FRN and partners are devoted to changing the lives of families — one resource and conversation at a time. Cabell County FRN, TEAM for West Virginia, the Claude Benedum Foundation, Strengthening Families West Virginia and the Center for the Study of Social Policy is working to advance protective factors in a community-level project.


According to its website, the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Early Learning Nation and Communities “work directly with stakeholders to connect the dots between sectors and create a unified system of support and provide materials and coaching to help them implement innovative strategies related to each of the building blocks for [Early Learning Communities].”


In late 2020 and early 2021, a team worked on gathering information, using Early Learning Nation’s four key building blocks:

  • Commitment to Early Childhood: The community prioritizes and invests in ensuring that all young children thrive.
  • Quality Services that Work for All: All children and families have access to the high-quality services and supports they need.
  • Neighborhoods Where Families Can Thrive: Families live in neighborhoods where their children can grow up safe and healthy.
  • Policies that Support Families: Local policies create a broad framework of support for all families with young children.


These factors are based on years of comprehensive research on what young children and their families need. They aim to address a wide range of ways communities can promote healthy child development and family well-being.


The team of approximately 25 partners participated in the Early Learning Communities process, including TEAM for West Virginia Children’s Mountain State Healthy Families (an in-home family education program using the Healthy Families America model), Playmates Child Development Center of Ceredo, United Way of the River Cities, Mission West Virginia, Aetna, Unite West Virginia, Valley Health Systems, Unicare, the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities, Cabell County Public Library’s Information and Referral, Contact Huntington, Head Start, Huntington Housing Authority’s Family Resource Center and First Choice. These partners were already connected through Partners in Prevention and Strengthening Families implementation in the county.


Cabell County has a long history of implementing Strengthening Families and early-learning frameworks, beginning as a pilot for an innovation grant from TEAM for West Virginia Children and the West Virginia Children’s Trust Fund between 2007 and 2010. The grant integrated Strengthening Families into early care and education centers in the county. Work has continued along with other initiatives to promote high quality programs.


Programs use the following protective factors from Partners in Prevention:

  • Parental Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  • Concrete Support in Times of Need
  • Children’s Social and Emotional Development

“When it comes to early childhood services and resources information sharing the work is never done,” said Debra Harris-Bowyer, Cabell County FRN coordinator. “Always build upon the foundation of the successful work and needs assessments that have been done to inform your next steps.”


Cabell County Family Resource Network also hosted separate focus groups and online surveys with parents and community members to gauge opinions and provide insight.


“This research was incredibly valuable,” Bowyer said. “Ultimately, we want to reach community organizations, parents and caregivers where they are and focus on issues that matter to them. The Early Learning Nation framework, in addition to Strengthening Families and Partners in Prevention, allowed us to have structured but meaningful conversations to continue to move the needle in the right direction. We will use the knowledge we gained from this research to continue this effort in Cabell County and our area at large.”


An action plan derived from this research include working with community organizations to identify how they influence families’ lives; spreading the word about child development; promote brain-building moments throughout the community; and continue to use resources to help families thrive.


Even with all the community focus on early childhood, there is still work to be done. In KIDS COUNT data in Cabell County for ages zero to 5, the highest indicator is 53.9 for young children (ages three and four) who are not in school. United Way of the River Cities’ Community Needs Assessment in 2019 ranked school readiness, reading at third grade level and extracurricular activities as some of the most important early childhood factors.


Since 1993, Cabell FRN has collaborated with partners in early childhood development initiatives. Cabell County FRN offers information and resources centered on how community organizations, parents and caregivers can get involved with early childhood development in small-to-large scales. Available resources include:


Learn more at


Read the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s report here:


Access the Electronic Press Kit here:



About The Cabell County Family Resource Network:

The Cabell County Family Resource Network (FRN) is a partnership of individuals, families and agencies working together to promote the well-being of children and families in Cabell County. Since its incorporation in September 1993, the Cabell County FRN has brought together a broad-based representation of partners, including business representatives, consumers, and service providers from health, education, housing, and social services. These partners are critical to improving the well-being of our families and children. The Cabell County FRN envisions a coordinated, community-based social service system responsive to the needs of families and effective in enhancing the success of individuals and families to responsibly achieve their goals.


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NEWS: Cabell County FRN, partners take actionable steps to help local families, children thrive 4-15-2021