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DOUBLE TAB TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET people’s hopes, promises, and deepest longings. Ask yourself this ques- tion: Am I using this daily opportunity to its fullest potential? The often-quoted African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is an important reminder. But perhaps in this consumer- oriented, technologically advanced, fast-paced culture, it will take a child to raise a village. When people genuinely come together around their hopes and dreams for children, a sense of possibility can be rekindled. This goes far beyond providing a service or a school readi- ness program. Early childhood centers can play a central role in recreating the new village, the new experience of neighborhood for daily life. They can become places that respond to the longings for community, meaningful relationships, a sense of belonging, and an exuberant experience of learning about the world. This is a real vision you can have for your programs, not just words on paper. Your ac- tions, your policies, and the pulse of your organizational culture can reflect and embody this dream. Distinguishing a Mission from a Vision The early childhood profession gives periodic lip service to the idea of having a vision, but it is uncommon to find much time or space devoted to this topic in literature or professional development offer- ings. More typical are discussions of appropriate practice, standards, regulations, and rating scales. Though these certainly may be part of one’s vision, they are not usually discussed in this context. With all our profession’s emphasis on the components of quality child care and best practices, specific mention of working within a larger vision is usually missing. Is this because we don’t understand the concept or role of a vision in our work, or are there other explanations? Many early childhood programs have something written on paper about their purpose. Often this is in the form of a mission statement outlining their intent to serve children in need of care, to treat them respectfully, and to meet their developmental needs. But directors hired into programs are seldom asked how they would like to see the organization’s purpose brought to life. Mission and philoso- phy statements are occasionally posted in programs and are usually found in handbooks or the organization’s literature. Rarely do these statements make their way into the hearts and minds of the staff or in any way become a guiding vision for program environments, policies and procedures, or daily decision making. A mission statement is usually about purpose, but it is seldom about a dream. Typically, a mission statement tries to address a problem Chapter 1   Guiding Your Program with a Vision  21 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL