“The Basics is a key part of our work in East Boston,” says EBSC Executive Director Justin Pasquariello, “Achievement gaps can open early, but The Basics can make a difference–preventing that from happening.” Like bringing puzzle pieces together, the working relationship between EBSC and The Basics adds up to more than what either organization could achieve without the other.

“Joy” is a word you hear often when working with Every Child Shines, an immediate clue that they take a holistic approach to early childhood development. After all, their mission is to “work to ensure all children in East Boston enter kindergarten joyful, thriving, and ready to learn.”

“It begins with Welcome Baby visits,” explains Lisa Melara, the Welcome Baby and Ages & Stages Questionnaire Coordinator. “All of our Welcome Baby Visitors have been trained in The Basics. We give families The Basics Principles card and play the Basics introductory video. They love the video! At every visit, we go through one Basics Principle until we get through all five. We read books together, we talk, sing, and point. And of course we sign them up for Basics Insights [The Basics text messaging program], then for expanded Welcome Baby visits.”

Melara emphasizes how grateful caregivers are that The Basics is able to speak to them in their first language, and Director Katie White chimes in. “We’re looking to connect families that might be more isolated,” White explains, “who might have some fear involved or previous negative experiences with organized institutions. The Basics is a judgment-free, easy way to start the conversation that serves as a framework for the relationship. It may start with Insights and end up scaffolding into a family saying, ‘I could really use help in this area, or this behavior is really challenging, or I’m feeling really overwhelmed.’ It allows for checking in over time, where we can ask, What insights did you use this week? What changes are you seeing in your child?”

Currently, Every Child Shines is launching their new Family Champions model, training caregivers in the community on The Basics so that every family with a young child has their own coach. The coach has a standing schedule for visits.

But White is quick to point out that anyone can introduce The Basics, not just early childhood educators, “particularly since Insights text messages are such an easy QR-code sign-up.” Every Child Shines works with partners such as the Maternal Health and Pediatrics departments at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

“When we’re looking for how to bridge and connect other family-serving organizations in East Boston and how we can support each other’s work and ultimately get more resources into the hands of families, having low-hanging fruit like The Basics is incredible,” White says. “It’s not a huge ask of a provider for them to mention it. It’s easy to remember, clearly relates to the child’s development long-term.”

“We were grateful to be one of the early partners with The Basics Boston,” Pasquariello says. “Ron Ferguson, Jim Quane, and Haji Shearer served on steering committees to help us think about our broader vision to help all kids enter kindergarten joyful, thriving, and ready to learn and how The Basics fits in, so we’ve really benefited from the thought partnership and kindness and the trainings they’ve provided on-site. They’re a great team to work with.”


Photo Caption: Ron Ferguson joined EBSC and their Family Champions in May for an engaging discussion about the importance of the Basics in the life of a child and how best to support families in implementing The Basics Principles across cultures.

Left to right: Jose Rafael Torres, Samantha Wu-Topolski, Ron Ferguson, Hanan Lahmouch, Daniela Molina, Laura Salazar

Photo courtesy of Every Child Shines and East Boston Social Centers.