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Amazing Gains for Lily

Early Intervention
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Early Intervention has enabled mom to support Lily to make amazing gains and she is now strong and doing very well.

An Early Intervention Professionals (Infant Toddler home visitors) in Luzerne County shares an experience with a family served.

Lily is a little girl with a long medical history. She was born very small and very early. After a long stay in the hospital mom was very worried and Lily was very small and fragile with limited endurance and a compromised immune system. 

Mom was extremely thankful when she was informed of home based Early Intervention because otherwise, Lily and mom would not have been able to receive the support they needed because it would have been dangerous for Lily to leave the home. 

Early Intervention has enabled mom to support Lily to make amazing gains and she is now strong and doing very well.


Confidence

Early Intervention
Thursday, February 14, 2019

I then asked what she thought was the most valuable tool we had given her, she responded "confidence".

An Early Intervention Professionals (Infant Toddler home visitors) in Luzerne County shares a conversation with a family she serves.

Shaun had invited me to visit with the family six months after his transition to the preschool EI program. 

She had prefaced the invitation with wanting to show me how well he was doing. Knowing he had many new interventionists at the preschool level and different supports in his schedule, I asked what she felt was leading to his great success in learning many new signs to communicate with his family.

Shauna proudly explained that she had continued to use techniques we had taught her to expand his communication skills.  Shauna was able to tell me that his attention to her and purposeful play with others in the family had grown. 

I then asked what she thought was the most valuable tool we had given her, she responded "confidence".


Strong Advocates for Kids and Their Education

Family Center
Thursday, February 14, 2019

The center provided her time and a computer to take the assessment test and trainings needed for the job she applied for. As a result Ashley achieved her goal and is now employed at the job she always wanted. Ashley is now looking forward to furthering her education.

The Steel Valley Family Center shares success stories from families at their program.

One of our family success stories in achieving her goals is Angel. Angel had belonged to the center when her older children were young.  Her older children had aged out of the program and then she got pregnant with her youngest daughter and returned to the center.  Through the use of goal planning during home visits, Angel expressed that she wanted to go back to school so she could get a better job to support her children.  Angel’s family development specialist told her about the Health Professional Opportunity Grant (HPOG) program through the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) that she learned about from her lead agency the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.  

Angel looked into the program through the help of her family development specialist and decided that she wanted to go to school for medical billing and coding.  With the help of her Family Development Specialist (FDS), Angel applied to and was accepted to the HPOG Program. The HPOG Program will help Angel to pay for child care for her children and help her to provide transportation to the program.

The family center helped Angel with her transportation needs to get to her orientation for the program. Our van driver took Angel to these appointments until she got her bus pass from the program. We helped Angel to find a reliable daycare to send the children to when she was at her classes. Her FDS also helped Angel to sign up her youngest daughter for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Early Head Start Program and her son for the Head Start classroom.

Angel is on track to graduate from the HPOG program with a certification in medical billing and coding within the next few months. Angel is currently working at the student book store where she just got a promotion to Team Lead. Upon completion of her program Angel will work with counselors at CCAC to obtain a position in the medical field. This will allow Angel to better provide for her and her family.

Another success story where a family overcame obstacles and achieved her goals is Ashley.  Ashley became involved with the center as a referral from Maternal Family Health. She had post-partum with her youngest son. She has stated that home visiting helped her with her post-partum. When she first started she was not very involved with the center then she became comfortable with her FDS.

Ashley enrolled her children in AIU’s Early Head Start and Head Start.  She became a policy council member for her son’s AIU’s Early Head Start and Head Start. Through home visiting and assessments Ashley was able to receive the Early Intervention Services needed for her son. He has just recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her FDS has attended IEP meetings with Ashley as well as meetings for her son’s wrap-around services.

Ashley had a setback with issues regarding housing and her goal became to find adequate housing. Her FDS and the center assisted her in searching for housing. We provided a housing list and searched on the internet. Ashley persevered and was able to find adequate housing for her and her family. 

Another goal Ashley had was to obtain a better job. Her FDS helped her with making a resume and apply to different agencies. The center provided her time and a computer to take the assessment test and trainings needed for the job she applied for. As a result Ashley achieved her goal and is now employed at the job she always wanted. Ashley is now looking forward to furthering her education.

Ashley is now a very involved family at the center. She has stated that she believes in what we do and how we have helped her a lot. Due to the confidence she has gained by being involved with the center, Ashley wanted to start her own summer mentoring program for the children in the Homestead community. It is called Meet Me in the Park. The center supported Ashley in achieving the startup of her program by helping her with fliers and making copies. The center put fliers in the newsletter and helped Ashley write a proposal for the Homestead Borough Council. Ashley was approved by the borough and had her first Meet Me in the Park this past summer. 

Ashley has become our parent council president and the attendance increased. She has become an avid recruiter for the center. Due to her leadership roles here at the center she has become a strong advocate for kids and their education.


Developing a Goal Plan

Family Center
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mom decided she wanted to go back to school. She talked with her Family Development Specialist (FDS) about this and they developed a goal plan.

The McKeesport Family Center shares a success story of a family at their program.

We have a young, married mother of two young children enrolled in our family center for a little over two years.  When she enrolled in our center she had one daughter and was a security guard for a bank. She always had an interest of obtaining a job working for the government. 

The following year, Mom decided she wanted to go back to school. She talked with her Family Development Specialist (FDS) about this and they developed a goal plan.

The mom enrolled in CCAC (Community College of Allegheny County). Shortly after, she found out she was expecting another child.  Mom continued to attend school, as well as maintain her security job at the bank. After her baby was born, it became very stressful attending school and having a newborn baby.  Her daughter was born with stomach issues, so she was fussy and cried a lot, thus causing additional worries for mom. 

Her FDS was aware of the situation and helped out mom the best she could.  Mom contacted her FDS late one night and was at her wits end, crying and very upset. The baby would not stop crying, she didn’t know what to do. Her FDS went to her house and tried various ways to calm the baby and mom down. After the baby quieted down, FDS and mom had a conversation. Mom was extremely thankful and appreciative.

The next few home visits and phone calls consisted of ways to manage her schedule, use additional supports and resources. She needed childcare for her baby while she attended school and goes to work.

Her husband works as well. Her FDS suggested one of our family’s that is an active member of our center. She contacted the family and set up childcare. Mom returned to work and was able to finish her classes. She has completed all of her classes and has her degree that will allow her to work with Homeland Security. 


Changing the Lives of the Parent and Children

Family Center
Thursday, February 14, 2019

This success story has changed the lives of the parent and children.  The parent is still working and is able to provide for her children in a better manner.

The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) gave a presentation to the Allegheny Intermediate Unit FACES Family Centers. The subject was regarding a program called Health Professional Opportunity Grant (HPOG), a grant that can provide education and training in healthcare tracks for low income individuals. The center reached out to the enrolled parents with this information.

One parent, who is single and has two children, indicated a sincere interest in the program. The Family Development Specialist (FDS) staff member began assisting the parent with the application process and the center provided the parent transportation to and from the college for various appointments. The parent started her first semester at CCAC shortly thereafter. 

The parent has successfully completed the required courses and is certified as a Home Health Aide.  

Due to the center’s staff ongoing supportive relationships with families, and working relationships with various agencies, the Family Development Specialist (FDS) reached out to Sunny Days-In Care agency. The FDS was able to help the parent that attended Community College of Allegheny County get an interview and as a result the parent secured employment.

This success story has changed the lives of the parent and children.  The parent is still working and is able to provide for her children in a better manner. By having a work income she has been able to establish good credit and has purchased a SUV to take her children on trips, doctor appointments, school events, etc.  


Building a Team of Allies for Jonathan

Early Intervention
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Through these resources both Jonathan and I were embraced by supportive staff who taught me how to access tools and advocate for Jonathan—and together we built a team of allies for Jonathan.

Rachel H.

I am the mother of a six year old autistic child named Jonathan. Being a first time mother to Jonathan has been epic, dynamic, and rewarding all at the same time. The news of his diagnosis was devastating for me at first, but since then I have learned to navigate the highs and lows that come with our daily lived experience.

Through the recommendation of a family member, I was introduced to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s Early Head Start Program which connected me to Montgomery Early Learning Center and the Center for Autism.  Through these resources both Jonathan and I were embraced by supportive staff who taught me how to access tools and advocate for Jonathan—and together we built a team of allies for Jonathan.

Little did I know but through my parenting Jonathan, I was gaining the knowledge for my next career path. One year after Jonathan’s diagnosis, I began volunteering as an advocate, mentor, and public speaker before presidential cabinet members, and working with city council members to campaign for quality early learning for special needs children. Today, as we are still fighting an uphill battle, Jonathan is happy, heathy and thriving every single day.  I am thankful for Jonathan’s team and I will continue to pay it forward as I commit my life to other parents and caretakers who are searching answers and support.

Rachel H. is a lifelong resident of West Philadelphia and a Family Navigator for the West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning, a Drexel University-led initiative based at People’s Emergency Center.


In The Best Hands

Child Care Works, Keystone STARS
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Carter just turned four and is now enrolled in an early pre-k class. The amount of growth I have seen is remarkable.

Danielle

I know all parents are biased when it comes to their children, myself included. Carter is the most intelligent four year child I have ever crossed paths with. He is kind and compassionate, strong willed and determined. For every statement made he always has some sort of comeback. For every tear shed he is there to tell you it will all be okay. 

When Carter was younger he was able to stay at home with his Dad while he worked from home and I feel as if that's where he learned to pick up things so fast. However, we knew that he would need the social interaction with other children his age. 

We enrolled him in day care right after he turned two. He just turned four and is now enrolled in an early pre-k class. The amount of growth I have seen is remarkable. He has quickly learned the basic such as counting, his alphabet and his number. He has also learned how to be a compassionate child. He grew up with a handful of cousins but chose to not interact or share. He is now the first one to share with his little brother and the first to wipe his tears when he cries. Carter comes home everyday telling me all of what he learned in school and he enjoys attending.

A few weeks before Christmas my sons lost their father. The entire facility pulled together and made sure my children and myself had the best Christmas we could under the circumstances. Carter's first response after he finished was "this is the best Christmas ever." They had also helped with the financial burden of child care allowing me to alleviate some stress. 

I am currently back to working full time as well as finishing up my college degree and while I am not with my boys I know that I don't have to worry about their well being because they are in the best hands. 


Forever Grateful

Early Intervention
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

We are not only better informed but also trying to help others in their journey by getting involved in family engagement opportunities.

Sadia B.

Ehlaam is an adventurous ball of energy who loves to spend time outdoors. She enjoys painting and drawing and loves watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Things were different four years ago. We started noticing some of her developmental milestones were missing. Our pediatrician was quick in evaluating and at 18 months she referred us to the Early intervention. Ehlaam prominently had speech delay and social interaction issues. The Early intervention's evaluation process was quick, and a team was assigned to implement their plan promptly. The team included a special instructor, speech and occupational therapist. The team helped us in understanding and managing Ehlaam's behaviors, they also gave us the emotional support that we needed and most importantly prepared us to get an early diagnosis.

At three Ehlaam got a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder and she transitioned to the Early Intervention 3 to 5 program. She started Early Intervention preschool and was placed in a verbal behavior Autistic support class. Her class teacher for two years now Ms. Shannon Urich and her team are incredible. Ehlaam has shown tremendous progress in her speech and behaviors. The frequency of meltdowns has decreased. One of the biggest contributions of that Early Intervention team is them collaborating and coordinating with the in-home wrap around team and center-based therapists that has made Ehlaam's progress by leaps and bounds, not only at school but also at home and in the community. We have a once in two monthly meeting where we all sit together and share information and discuss strategies to address challenging behaviors and set up goals.

One of the other contribution of Early Intervention which has been imperative to Ehlaam's progress is giving us the emotional support and strength that as parents we needed to understand and accept the diagnosis and manage our lives after that and have also provided us amazing opportunities to be educated about Autism by providing us a scholarship to attend the National Autism conference that has changed us as parents. We are not only better informed but also trying to help others in their journey by getting involved in family engagement opportunities.

Early Intervention has been a blessing in our life. They have not only been the professionals that help us with our daughter but have been like a family providing us emotional support and strength to keep going. We are forever grateful to Early intervention and feel blessed to have them in our life.

girl with teacher

2019 CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL OF JOHNSTOWN

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Children’s Book Festival will be held April 6 & 7, 2019 at the Bottle Works at 411 Third Avenue in Johnstown.

2019 CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL OF JOHNSTOWN ATTRACTS TOP NOTCH TALENT

If you’re a parent of a young child, it’s likely your little one’s bedtime routine includes reading a story together. And chances are the hugely popular Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series is a favorite. Join us in April as The Learning Lamp welcomes Sherri Duskey Rinker, the New York Times bestselling author of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Mighty, Mighty Construction Site and Steam Train Dream Train to the 2019 Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown.

The Children’s Book Festival will be held April 6 & 7, 2019 at the Bottle Works at 411 Third Avenue in Johnstown. Families will be able to meet Rinker as she presents, reads to children, and signs copies of her books. Local and regional authors are invited to join in the fun by reserving a table at the book festival to meet children and promote and sell their own books throughout the weekend.

Celebrating its eleventh year with a theme of Pails, Scales and Tails, the Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown aims to provide children in grades PreK – 6 in and their families with a FREE, interactive and engaging literary experience that inspires in children a love for books, encourages parents to read to their little ones, and gives families access to affordable new and used books to build home libraries of their own.  And every child who comes to the Book Festival walks away with a free book from the First Book national book bank.

In addition to Rinker’s presentation, the festival will feature other nationally and regionally known authors/illustrators, like five-time Parents’ Choice Award winner Barry Louis Polisar, an author, songwriter, poet and storyteller.

Barry performs his songs on two different Grammy Award-winning albums and sings his song All I Want is You in the opening credits of the Academy Award-winning movie Juno. Polisar has written songs for Sesame Street and The Weekly Reader and starred in a television show for children that won two Emmy Awards. Polisar will also take the stage with live storytelling performances.

Another featured author is Tom Watson of the popular Stick Dog and Stick Cat early chapter book series. Tom draws the original sketches for all the Stick Dog stories and his illustrator, Ethan Long, takes Tom’s ideas and pens the final pictures that readers see in all of his books. Watson’s first job out of college was in politics, however, he likes writing books for children a lot more than writing speeches.

Lastly, the Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown is happy to announce the return of internationally- renowned cartoonist Joe Wos of Pittsburgh to our lineup of artists. Wos started drawing mazes at the age of 7 and is regarded as a master maze maker. A fan favorite in 2018, Wos wows adults and children alike with real-time illustrations and storytelling and hands-on drawing workshops for older kids.

Additionally, the festival includes themed arts and crafts activities, writing/rhyming workshops and a STEAM-based workshop featuring The Learning Lamp To Go program – a children’s mobile makerspace that encourages exploration, innovation and tinkering through hands-on projects with a STEAM (science, engineering, technology, art and math) focus. Families will also find new and used book sales, refreshments, and hundreds of entries in our annual bookmark contest. Festivalgoers are invited to vote for their favorites, and winners of each age bracket receive a basket full of age-appropriate books.

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and its regional partner the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance for supporting the festival with a $3,000 grant. The Learning Lamp is seeking additional sponsors for 2019. Community support is critical to making this event accessible to children and families of all incomes. The festival wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Festival Coordinator Kerri Belardi at kbelardi@thelearninglamp.org. For more information about the 11th Annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown, visit our website, thelearninglamp.org or visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/CBFJohnstown/. 


Impacts for Samiyah and Mom

Head Start, Parent Child Home Program
Friday, January 11, 2019

Samiyah is an inquisitive child, she asks a lot of questions.

Tiffany C.

Samiyah is an inquisitive child, she asks a lot of questions. Some of her curiosity comes for her time spent in a Head Start pre-k classroom where she was exposed to new things every day. Other positive experiences of her time in pre-k: introduction to the classroom setting, increased focus on early literacy, the opportunity to interact with other children, and development of proper social skills. Now Samiyah is in 2nd grade. She loves to read everything that she sees, and she’s doing well in school.

This is a different situation than my first daughter, Syamora, who was kept home instead of going to pre-k. Her first experience in the classroom was not until Kindergarten at age 5. As a result, Syamora is experiencing more challenges in elementary school, including an IEP.

Samiyah attending Pre-K allowed me to go back to work. I found West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning and am currently employed as a Family Ambassador where I am able to share the benefits of ECE with other parents. In addition, I was able to use my experience to secure a part-time position with Parent Child Home Program as an Early Learning Specialist. I see the impact of quality ECE on my children, which has inspired me pursue a CDA credential so I can continue to support children and families.


Preocupado por el desarrollo de su hijo?

Llame a la línea de ayuda CONNECT de Pensilvania al 1-800-692-7288. Un experto puede responder a sus preguntas y conectar con un programa que puede ayudar.

Llame a la Línea de Ayuda de Child Care Works al 1-877-4-PA-KIDS (1-877-472-5437) para obtener información sobre cómo encontrar, pagar y otras preocupaciones relacionadas con el cuidado de niños.

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