Fund prepares kids to succeed in school
December 5, 2005
DILLON – Ellen Reid lives in Breckenridge, far from her family. As a first-time mom, she has a lot of questions – questions her relatives would answer if they were closer and could see her 10-month-old daughter in action. Instead, she relies on community resources.Through Families United, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) provides new moms with monthly home visits based on the parents as teachers curriculum. And that’s just one of the services in Families United. It also provides preschool and other resources for children of low-income, high-risk families through the Head Start program, as well as two Warm Welcome visits, which give information and resources to all new parents. Families United serves 200 local families. By July, coordinator Brianne Snow hopes to serve 250 families. Last year, the Summit Daily News Holiday Fund provided $6,500, enough to serve 14 families, said Christina Carlson, executive director of FIRC.”From parenting strategies to brain development information, we provide the parents with the tools that they need to help their child reach his or her full potential,” Snow said. “Our program (also) has been proven to help prevent child abuse and neglect.”Families United teaches parents to be their children’s first and most important teacher. It addresses school and social readiness, cultural diversity, nutrition, attachment and other issues. Bicultural educators work with Hispanic families, and in April FIRC hopes to hire educators who can speak French and other languages, Carlson said.”It’s especially important around second-language learners – to have them ready to learn in English,” Carlson said.The program helps parents prepare their children for school by suggesting age-appropriate games, made from household items, that help children’s brains develop. For example, Reid put a cork, an eraser and other small items in a Ziploc bag full of water when her daughter was about 4 months old. The toy showed cause and effect (touching one side made the other side rise) and involved the senses (touching something cold and soft).
Parent educators also screen children’s overall development, health, hearing and vision. Often, they address issues parents might not think about immediately.”Right now, we’re working with discipline,” Reid said. “I didn’t think I’d have to consider discipline at my daughter’s age, but (I’ve learned) it’s important to establish boundaries now so that when she’s 13, she’ll listen. I wouldn’t have thought of that.”FIRC expanded its Families United program Sept. 1, allowing all parents with kids age 0 to 5 years, rather than just high-risk families, to benefit from services. In the past, FIRC only offered a pre- and post-natal visit to all families, under the Warm Welcome program. Now, families can enroll any time – even if they move to Summit County with a 2-year-old and start the program then.FIRC also offers two other main resources:• General assistance: FIRC provides translation services, resource and referrals (ranging from drug and alcohol classes to information on how to become a licensed childcare provider), cultural adjustment help, case management and emergency financial assistance to any Summit County resident. Financial assistance may include rental, energy, medical, dental transportation or other appropriate short-term assistance, but FIRC places emphasis on empowering people to take care of themselves.• Summit Thrift & Treasure: This retail store provides funding for FIRC as well as a place for people to shop and donate unused items. It also offers shopping vouchers for volunteers.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13624, or at email@example.com.The Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) is among the recipients selected by Summit Daily News publisher Jim Morgan to benefit from the newspaper’s Holiday Fund. The paper is publishing a series of stories about several of the agencies that will receive funds during the next month.The fund was established by former publisher Mike Bennett, who chose the holiday season because that’s when agencies are typically the hardest hit by requests.Donations will be accepted through Dec. 31. Individuals or organizations can send a check to Holiday Fund, Summit Daily News, P.O. Box 329, Frisco, CO 80443. Donations can be made in person at the newspaper at 40 W. Main St., in Frisco. Donors can specify if they want the donation to go to a particular agency. Summit Daily News publisher Jim Morgan says he is glad to entertain requests from other nonprofit agencies that benefit children and families.For more information about FIRC, call (970) 513-1170.
The parents as teachers curriculum has been shown to:- make parents more knowledgeable about child-rearing practices and child development. – increase parents’ confidence in parenting skills. – help parents engage in more language- and literacy-promoting behaviors with their children. – engage parents more in their children’s schooling. – help children at age 3 become more advanced than comparison children in language, problem solving and other cognitive abilities, as well as social development. – enable children to score higher on kindergarten readiness tests and on standardized measures of reading, math and language in first through fourth grades. – Brianne Snow, Families United coordinator