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Parent University: How a Unique Program in Vermont Is Creating Cultural Collaboration

by Ellen M. Drolette
July/August 2020
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/parent-university-how-a-unique-program-in-vermont-is-creating-cultural-collaboration/5025467/

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Ali Dieng has one word to describe the work he does in Burlington, Vermont: collaboration. He believes that collaboration in communities is what allows people to succeed.

Burlington, Vermont, has a population of around 42,000 people; there are 48 languages represented in the Burlington School District. Dieng immigrated to the United States from West Africa in 2007 and landed in Vermont in 2008. Although his education is in international law, he became a site director for the Burlington School District after-school program. Dieng was drawn toward the importance of early childhood education. The articles and media he had been reading about the importance of a child’s first few years pulled him in. 

In 2009, Dieng was directing a summer camp in a low-income housing community. The staff had been seeing children who were not getting the proper care they needed.

“Children had cuts with no bandages, 8-year-olds were taking care of their baby siblings, children were showing up to camp without shirts and shoes,” Dieng said. “We wanted parents to understand that there are regulations for everything, and if you do not take care of your children appropriately, there are consequences. The idea ...

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