LUDLOW — At the Ludlow School Committee meeting on July 19, the committee received a presentation about the district’s Pathways for Parents program, which helps prepare young children for kindergarten while providing educational resources and referrals to families.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Erica Faginski-Stark, said the Pathways for Parents program is funded by three different grants. The three grants are a $103,645 Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grant, a $58,262 Parent Child+ Grant, and a $21,000 Private Extension Grant.
“We are here to share the great things happening for children from birth to 8 years old, which helps us prepare all our new kindergarten students and give parents opportunities in their local community,” he said. she declared.
Through the Pathways for Parents program, the district serves families in eight communities, including Ludlow, Hampden, Wilbraham, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Southwick, Tolland and Granville.
A group of town program coordinator Kelly Castor said the program works with the Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center.
“They are an entry point for one of our grants in terms of finding families who need support in terms of English as a second language [English as a Second Language],” she says.
In addition to the learning center, Castor added that the Pathways program also partners with libraries in its communities and the Ministry of Children and Families.
Castor said the program currently serves 31 families, half of which are from Ludlow. The program also works directly with area daycares.
“Right now we’re in a daycare with 10 kids, and then later in the fall we’ll be taking two more. It will be about working on teaching child care early education resources and trying to make sure kids are connected to the services they need,” Castor said.
With the continued shortage of infant formula across the country, Castor said the program is also working to provide families with contacts to try to obtain infant formula.
Faginski-Stark said the program works with schools and other community members to prepare students for school.
“We also associate this with [East Street School Principal] Tom Welch’s curriculum for kindergarten enrollment. The children were able to take a bus tour and meet key staff. It’s been a very nice connection, we weren’t able to do it during COVID [-19]but we worked on that and included the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club and other stakeholders, so we’re really trying to bring everyone together,” she said.
Through a survey of the program, Castor said parents have a better understanding of their children as they prepare to enter kindergarten.
“One percent of participants had a better understanding of their child’s development through the programs we provide, and 90.9% of participants had a better understanding of their child’s social-emotional needs through these programs,” she said. .
Castor said the program had to move to online activities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Some of the things we’ve done are we’ve offered virtual groups, we’ve done Facebook Lives, we’ve done videos, zooms and we’ve provided material that families can pick up from libraries and then work with. we. Also, as families were more at home with their kids, they were watching more things, so our referrals went up for that,” she said.
Castor detailed the various referral services the program offers to children and families.
“Typically, our biggest source of referral that we offer to families is child development, followed by basic needs, then development, then home and child care,” she said. .
Castor said that in terms of child development referrals, 30% go to early intervention agencies and 20% of families are connected to special education services.
Summing up the most recent month of programming, Castor said May had been a busy month.
“We provided 61 programs to our communities, 32 were virtual groups, 422 families participated in outdoor activities, 24 materials were distributed to families, and 241 families participated in story hours,” he said. she stated.
As part of one of the grants, Castor said the district participated in a needs assessment to determine the type of intervention needed at an early age.
“It works with all of our cities, but it really encompassed what’s going on in Ludlow, the ESL population and stuff like that. What we discovered is that we are not able to connect with some of these people immediately, we saw this grant as a great opportunity to capitalize on that,” she said.
Following the presentation, committee vice-chair Jeffrey Laing emphasized the importance of early intervention and school readiness for students.
“It’s important that we get children the services they need as early as possible, I think we all understand that this is a crucial time to understand what they need,” he said.
For more information about the program, families can visit the Pathways for Parents Facebook page or website at https://sites.google.com/ludlowps.org/pathways-for-parents/home .
The Ludlow School Committee will next meet on August 23 and coverage of that meeting will appear in the September 1 edition of The reminder.