First3Years names Sadie Funk Chief Executive Officer
Goal is to expand Safe Babies Program into Dallas County, and is expected to impact more than 1,000 babies in Foster Care.
Dallas, Texas, June 13, 2017 — The First3Years Board of Directors today named Sadie Funk as First3Years CEO, a new role for the organization. Ms. Funk joined First3Years in April 2013 as Executive Director and since then, has led the organization through significant growth and impact in achieving its mission to educate, advocate, and collaborate to advance healthy development of infants and toddlers. Ms. Funk is credited with bringing the Safe Babies program to Texas, an approach that seeks to redesign foster care and child welfare by centering on the developmental and social needs of babies from birth to 36 months. This year, Ms. Funk’s plan is to replicate the Safe Babies Tarrant County pilot program in Dallas County, which aims to impact more than 1,000 babies in foster care.
Making life better for the vulnerable is on many Texan minds. In the recent legislative session, a number of bills were introduced—aimed at fixing a system that unfortunately is not working for thousands of children and families. Safe Babies Dallas has the potential to not only save young children from hard places and familial crisis from secondary trauma in foster care, but provide a model that can be replicated across the state.
“Foster care right now for a baby, is beyond traumatic. We believe that by making small tweaks to each step – case management, placement, parent visitations – we can significantly improve outcomes for that child. We welcome Gov. Abbott’s intentional efforts to address longstanding issues that further traumatize children in the child welfare system. Texas needs more leadership to step forward and demonstrate their unwillingness to accept the poor treatment of children in the system,” shares Ms. Funk.
It was Ms. Funk’s vision to establish Safe Babies in Texas, starting with a pilot in Tarrant County. Safe Babies educates parents, judges, placement agencies and case managers on the critical importance of the first three years of a child’s life; and promotes coordination among agencies involved with cases of abuse and neglect. In its pilot year, Tarrant County trained 300 stakeholders, impacting 12,000 infants and toddlers in the community. Funders for Safe Babies Tarrant County include The Meadows Foundation, Rees-Jones Foundation, Sid W. Richardson Foundation; Don and Barbara Kirk Endowment Fund, the Martin H. and Helen M. Wikierkak Memorial Fund for Abused Children and WORTH Endowment Fund of the North Texas Community Foundation.
“Sadie’s approach to identifying promising best practices and innovations in reaching the most vulnerable among us – babies, toddlers and their families, is what makes her leadership distinctive,” shares Mark Sinatra, First3Years Board President.
First3Years began in 1980 when early childhood professionals banded together to learn, share and connect in their goal to better serve their young clients. Recognizing that systemic change can multiply education efforts, First3Years in recent years has incubated promising approaches that are highly-collaborative and go beyond single-agency programs, like Safe Babies.
With an advantage of learnings from the pilot in Tarrant County, Safe Babies Dallas has found good early momentum for the initiative, including funding from United Way’s GroundFloor accelerator program for entrepreneurs.
First3Years educates, advocates, and collaborates to advance the healthy development of infants and toddlers. We have trained and mentored thousands of professionals across the state on brain development, attachment, separation, trauma, self-regulation, cross-cultural awareness, and other infant mental health related issues. We know that supporting the social emotional development of infants and toddlers is critical for helping the next generation be healthy, productive members of society. In 2016, the organization reached 2,396 professionals and 112,000 young children across the state of Texas through its signature education and professional development programs; and community programs supporting young children in foster care, child welfare, and at-risk teen dads. For more about First3Years, visit: first3yearstx.org