FL 2030 Benchmarks

New Florida Business Alliance for Early Learning Advisory Board Member Hope Haven is in the Path to Prosperity Spotlight

Interviewee: Stella Johnson, CEO, Hope Haven

Tell us a little about Hope Haven.

Founded in 1926, Hope Haven has been a beacon of hope for the Jacksonville community for generations, consistently providing high-quality, comprehensive services tailored to the unique needs of children. Our mission is to ensure that children and families realize their full potential by providing specialized services and individualized educational opportunities.  Our world-class staff provides clinical, educational, employment, and advocacy services that empower individuals as they navigate challenges and harness their strengths.

What made Hope Haven join the Florida Business Alliance for Early Learning Project’s Advisory Board?

Hope Haven is driven by a vision that transcends the boundaries of our immediate community.  We see the immense potential in marrying time-tested interventions with groundbreaking, innovative approaches to early learning.  We are excited to join like-minded stakeholders to immerse ourselves in a collaborative environment where cutting-edge ideas are born and nurtured.  Together, we can demonstrate what is possible when passion meets innovation and make Florida a national beacon of excellence in early learning.

Tell us about some of the current projects Hope Haven has in the works to improve early learning outcomes in the Jacksonville area.

We’ve launched an initiative to change the trajectory of the “school to prison” pipeline. Our focus is on comprehensive evaluation of children in kindergarten through second grade who are struggling. Recognizing the critical transition at third grade, from learning to read to reading to learn, we aim to detect and diagnose any learning disabilities before this shift. Our approach is swift, bypassing the traditionally lengthy evaluation processes in schools and providing actionable results within weeks rather than months or years. This timely intervention, coupled with our dedicated advocacy for families navigating the IEP process, ensures that children receive the support they need as soon as possible.

ACCESS Hope: Autism is another project focused on early diagnosis and health equity. Our goal is to evaluate 300 children for autism before they reach the age of three within three years.  We complete these evaluations within weeks of initial referral, whereas the norm is 18 months in our community.  Early diagnosis is pivotal for children with autism, facilitating care at a time when the brain is most receptive to interventions that can significantly improve their developmental outcomes. We’re proud to report that in our first year, we’ve already served 78 clients from all economic backgrounds who received the same quality of care in record-breaking time.

What would you say is the business case for Florida businesses/institutions to get involved with addressing early learning efforts in their neighborhoods across Florida?

Children who benefit from early support and interventions are more likely to succeed academically and socially, leading to a more skilled and capable workforce in the future. Moreover, the earlier those interventions take place, the less they cost over the long run.  A well-educated community translates to a more robust economy, lower crime rates, and a higher quality of life, all of which are favorable for businesses to innovate, expand, and thrive.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about the importance of joining the mission to secure the future of our youngest Floridians?

The future of Florida lies in the hands of our youngest residents. By investing in their early education and well-being, we’re not just shaping their individual futures but the future of our state as a whole. Every child deserves the chance to reach their full potential, and by joining hands in this mission, we can ensure that they do. Together, we are creating a brighter future for all Floridians.

Click here to learn about the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Alliance for Early Learning Project, which is uniting Florida businesses for good to improve early learning outcomes in Florida.

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