The Strong Foundations for Young Children program, supporting families of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, has this year been redesigned and expanded to bring services to all of Hampshire County.
“We are thrilled to be able to expand this important program” says Sarah Lusardi, IECMH Clinical Supervisor at CES, who coordinates all referrals and intakes for the program. “In the past, Strong Foundations has served many children and families, but there was always a group of children that slipped through the cracks – the children who had challenges but were not Easthampton or Ware residents. The redesign has now created a safety net for these children and families throughout Hampshire County.”
Strong Foundations for Young Children provides families with the tools to strengthen their child’s social emotional and behavior skills before they begin school, and provides coaching and modeling for parents, grandparents, or caregivers to ensure that children of at-risk families have the skills they need at the start of Kindergarten. Strong Foundations is a program of the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) Early Childhood department.
Lusardi explains that the type and quantity of services are tailored to the individual needs of each child and family. A program clinician visits the family at home and helps with setting goals, coaching and modeling strategies for parents or caregivers, and connecting families with needed resources in the community. The family and their clinician will work together to determine appropriate goals for the family to support the social emotional development of the child, and address any special needs early to reduce challenging behaviors, and supports kindergarten readiness. A significant body of research illustrates that these services provided early on in a young child’s life promote a more positive school experience and later life success.
“An example of this is a child I am working with who has significant behavioral challenges, so much so that his mom didn’t even want to put him in childcare because she doesn’t think they can handle him. We have worked together to get him on a waitlist for childcare for the fall, with the plan of supporting him and reducing the challenging behavior before then. The mom is feeling so positive and hopeful.”
Families that are eligible for services reside in Hampshire County, and have a child, age birth to five (or before kindergarten) that is not in an early education and care program/childcare with social emotional and/or behavioral needs. Priority will go to families that are not yet connected to other community services and have a child with high needs. The program duration is typically 3-6 months (or less, depending on the needs of the family), and Strong Foundations staff work to connect families up to other resources and organizations in the region for ongoing assistance, depending on need.
To learn more about Strong Foundations for Young Children, contact Sarah Lusardi at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 413.586.4900 X5567