Over the course of 2021, we will feature 100 Heroes who have been instrumental in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors for the past century. To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.
Today we are interviewing Bradley Stevenson, a longtime partner, executive director of the Child Care Council and member of UWBG’s Policy and Advocacy Committee.
What is your current or former role within UWBG and the Child Care Council, and what does a typical day look like?
First and foremost, the Child Care Council is a community agency partner for United Way of the Bluegrass. I have been the director of the Child Care Council for 17 years and we have been a community agency partner every year that I have been director. It takes community relationships to impact change locally. We are grateful and thankful for our partnership with United Way of the Bluegrass
I am also a Policy and Advocacy Committee member. I look at policies and how they impact the services United Way is trying to provide through its partners. During the last legislative session, our committee looked at several legislative bills and policies. We were able to educate and advocate on how these new policies might impact families, children and child care providers in Fayette County and the surrounding Bluegrass region.
The Child Care Council’s typical day consists of being a support service for child care providers. We primarily work with Central Kentucky and the Elizabethtown area, but we also provide some services for the entire Commonwealth. We are up and at it early as child care providers are because they are up by 6 am so families can get to work. We answer phone calls and emails, clarify regulations and policies and help child care providers with opportunities to sign up for professional development. In the evenings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and sometimes Saturday, we are currently on Zoom doing professional development training and offering content for child care providers. We offer training on basic orientation to child care, pediatric abuse and head trauma as well as things that are more fun-themed such as providing teachers with fun content they can use in their classroom. All of this in an effort to keep child care teachers up to date on current trends in child care.
In my personal routine, I add the advocacy and policy pieces that we are advocating for daily. We are always advocating for policies that have a positive impact on children, families and child care businesses. This work involves building and fostering relationships at the local and state levels. Influencing positive change is not done in a vacuum, it’s done through collaboration. I enjoy the advocacy and policy work that comes with my part of the job, especially the coalition building with child care professionals.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
I think they are a conduit to pull agencies together to impact our community. United Way has evolved over time. Their giving and fundraising have changed. United Way is the place where community impact takes place. I love the new collective impact model that they’re working on with the neighborhood based WayPoint Centers. United Way will really impact communities with this model. At the core of impacting communities is impacting children, families, the school system and so on. There is a lot of growth in that. I am very thankful that there is an agency like United Way in our area that serves as the hub and conduit for basic and complex needs that families might have. I see them as a central point for all of this.
If you were encouraging someone to get involved with United Way, what would you encourage them to do throughout their time, or what advice would you give them?
I would encourage them first and foremost to consider pursuing being involved with United Way of the Bluegrass. They are a group of very special people who care about our community. Timothy Johnson is doing a fantastic job, even in the midst of COVID, of continuing to stay relevant in the conversation to provide services to those in need.
The first step is just taking the first step to get involved. It can be volunteering on community service days, being on a committee or working alongside a staff person. Become involved with whatever is going on in the community. I don’t know all of the staff at UWBG, but I do know the majority of them. UWBG is filled with a fantastic staff to work with and there is a lot of knowledge and experience that can be soaked up.
I highly encourage folks that a great way to get involved with United Way is by getting involved in the community, volunteering in the community and understanding the needs of our community. I think United Way is a great place for folks to go and make a change.
In your opinion, what change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
I’ll speak to this from a personal place. I think it would be United Way’s focus on families and education. Specifically early childhood education. So often we think about education as a state from grades K-12. Kids are 5 when they go to kindergarten and we have 5 years before that which are critical to a child’s education, the development of their brain and the parent's involvement in that process.
I am very thankful that our local United Way has chosen to not only talk about, but also invest real dollars into the early childhood system in Central Kentucky. That is birth to 5. I think that is having an incredible impact. I think it has the potential in 20 years to change the education system. More children will enter kindergarten ready to learn because of United Way’s commitment and investment in childhood education.
If you were to move away, what would you want to take with you from the Bluegrass area, or what would you miss most?
If my wife and I were to move away someday, I would want to take the people with us. At least the kindness and compassion our city has. I would want to just pack that up and take it with us wherever we move. It gives you a great place to live and raise a family.
What is your favorite local restaurant in the Bluegrass area?
I will break this down into categories starting with donuts. Northlime Coffee and Donuts has a special place in my heart. Northlime used to be right beside the STEAM academy where our oldest son was in school at the time and our youngest is now. I would drop my son off at school and hop across the adjacent corner to grab a coffee. I’ve met many friends there and I always say “never underestimate what could come out of a cup of coffee and a donut during a conversation”. There are many other great donut shops in town but Northlime holds a special place in my heart.
Staying on the topic of sweet stuff, my favorite ice cream shop is Crank and Boom. We go to Crank and Boom whenever we’re able to do so.
My favorite restaurant to get a good quality meal is Ramsey's. It’s around the corner from where we live and we go there often.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Bradley! We appreciate you and all that you've done.
“United Way is the one agency in town that can pull all the partners together to have the most collective impact on our children, families, community, schools and our city.”
Do you know someone who has worked alongside United Way of the Bluegrass in the past century who should be considered for our 100 Heroes series? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your nomination!