Posted: 4/07/22

City, County, TAMIU LoC@L PN-3 Collaboration Offers Report Focused on Strong Pre-Natal to 3 Foundation


Dr. James O'Meara
Dr. James O'Meara, Dean, College of Education  

An innovative collaboration between the City of Laredo, County of Webb, and Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) has produced a clear-eyed needs assessment focused on ensuring all parents and children can access the programs they need to provide a strong foundation for healthy development and learning for their children.

The City, County, and TAMIU’s College of Education focused on prenatal to age three and launched the Learning City@ Laredo Pre-Natal-3 (LoC@L PN-3) Project.  The effort is part of the Texas Prenatal to Three (PN-3) Collaborative that envisions a Texas that is the “best place to be born,” and includes over 115 partners across the state.  It is grounded in three key pillars — Healthy Beginnings, Supported Families, and Quality Early Childhood Care and Learning.

The Laredo LoC@L PN-3 Project wanted to conduct a system analysis to identify opportunities to strengthen programs, policies, and systems and increase access to all families, and partnered with Start Early. Start Early is a nonprofit public-private partnership advancing quality early learning and care for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to help close the opportunity gap.

The results of that community-based survey and assessment have been compiled in “Laredo Learns 2030:  Healthy Beginnings, Supported Families, High-Quality Early Care and Learning Report and Recommendations.”

TAMIU College of Education dean Dr. James O’Meara, one of the Report’s three authors, noted the timeliness of the Report’s availability during the Week of the Young Child, April 4 – 8. 

“The Week of the Young Child is a time when we all pause to acknowledge that our children's opportunities are our responsibilities.  It’s a chance to commit or recommit ourselves to make sure that each child experiences the type of early environment—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community—that promotes early learning.  This Report is an important first step in maintaining that path forward,” Dr. O’Meara explained. 

The Report findings and next steps were displayed at TAMIU's  “Discover TAMIU” April 9, 2022.

Of the Report and the group's shared vision, O'Meara offered a forecast.

“It’s a bold collaboration, but the City, County, and TAMIU are committed to a bold vision: to make Laredo the best place in Texas to be born and raise a family. This will not be an easy task. We’ll need to band together with friends, neighbors, and community leaders… and we’ll need to work together and learn together,” he continued.

The Report offers goals and recommendations to support Laredo’s Prenatal- 3 System.  For example, for innovative approaches to enhancing care, the Report offers a goal of increasing the quality of and access to prenatal and post-partum health services for low-income mothers and health services for low-income infants and toddlers. 

Additional goals and recommendations are provided for the remaining key pillars: Supported Families, and Quality Early Childhood Care and Learning. Outlined as the next steps by the Report are: a robust PN-3 parent leader network; continued connection of parents and caregivers to the Bright By Text Service, and ongoing efforts to work with community leaders, policymakers, and funders to build on Laredo’s existing strengths, expand access to impactful programs, and consider pathways to bring new programs and opportunities to Laredo.

For additional information, visit the College of Education at https://www.tamiu.edu/coedu, or contact Dr. O’Meara at james.omeara@tamiu.edu or 956.326.2420.

University news and information are also available online at tamiu.edu, and on its social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.