HELPING CHILDREN DO WELL
UWSC’s Community Impact Goal is: Helping Children Do Well by providing services to children and their families which foster the improvement of: Academic Readiness, Mentorship, Child Wellness, and Family Development and/or Stability.
Did you know that 81% of children under the age of 5 in Susquehanna County are living in economically at risk households?
To address this, United Way of Susquehanna County has changed the way it helps the community.
It’s become an “issue-driven” organization.
In 2014, the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development completed a study on UWSC’s behalf. Despite the many good things happening in our community, i
t was clear the indicators pointed to kids being left behind. The study revealed a sharp increase in:
- Increase in childhood poverty rates
- Increase in number of children qualifying for free or reduced lunches
- Single parent households
- Grandparents raising grandchildren
Through its “Helping Children Do Well” movement, the United Way is focused on making lasting change by investing in local community agencies which support academic readiness, mentorship, childhood wellness and family stability. In addition, UWSC is funding agencies that provide safety net services to individuals and families in need.
Foster Grandparent Program
Helping Children Do Well: Mentorship
Lead Agency: Area Agency on Aging
Description: Foster Grandparent volunteers will work with children with special/exceptional needs or who are economically disadvantaged one-on-one or in small groups in kindergarten through twelfth grade schools. The volunteers will assist the assigned children with classroom activities and academics, encourage children to stay on task and participate, encourage positive relationships with peers and adults and assist the child with improving academics and school attendance. Foster Grandparents also profoundly enrich their own lives. They find that doing something for others in their community does a lot for them, from earning extra income to having a sense of accomplishment.
Nurse Family Partnership
Helping Children Do Well: Child Wellness
Lead Agency: Maternal and Family Health Services
Description: Nurse Family Partnership Program (NFP) serves low income, first-time mothers considered at risk of lifelong poverty and poor health outcomes due to age, poverty, social factors, domestic violence, mental health issues, and drug/alcohol use. Nurses with specialized training in physical, emotional and environmental health conduct visits with clients on a bi-weekly basis – beginning early pregnancy until the child turns age two.
NFP provides services to children and their families that fosters child wellness by providing education and support related to healthy pregnancies, childhood health and development, as well as, focusing on the economic self-sufficiency of the family. NFP’s vision is “Children are healthy. Families thrive.
Communities prosper. Cycles are broken. “Many of the most pervasive, intractable, and costly problems faced by young children and parents in our community today are a consequence of adverse maternal health-related behaviors during pregnancy (like smoking, drinking, drug use), dysfunctional infant care, giving, and stressful environmental conditions that interfere with prenatal and family functioning. These behaviors contribute to an increased incidence of infant mortality, preterm delivery and low birth weight, child abuse and neglect, childhood injuries, youth violence, close spaced pregnancy, and thwarted economic self-sufficiency. NFP, along with community partners, address this vulnerable population.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Helping Children Do Well: Mentorship
Lead Agency: Voluntary Action Center
Description: There is an overwhelming sense of adversity facing children today, so what if every child fulfilled his or her potential? Big Brothers Big Sisters strives to do just that, through their community mentoring program and site based programs the program matches a volunteer adult mentor to a child who is facing “adversity.” Big Brothers Big Sisters does not define adversity, as each child defines their own adversity, though the most common adversities among clientele are those affected by poverty and or being raised by a single parent or other relatives such as an aunt or grandparent.
The consistent, enduring presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life can be the difference between staying in school or dropping out, making healthy decisions or engaging in risky behaviors, and realizing one’s potential or failing to achieve one’s dreams. National and local studies completed through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America show that children who have role models are more likely to improve in school and their relationships with family and friends, and less likely to skip school or use illegal drugs or alcohol. Students who are successful in school are less likely to drop out, abuse drugs, or commit crimes and have stronger support networks.
Promoting Healthy Relationships for Children and Teens/Raising Awareness of Child Abuse
Helping Children Do Well: Child Wellness
Lead Agency: Women’s Resource Center
Description: Women’s Resource Center (WRC) will collaborate with The Children’s Center of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties (CAC) to provide programming in schools and to local community groups and organizations. The WRC Teen Advocate will maintain a regular presence in middle and high schools through Susquehanna County. The CAC staff will focus on programs for elementary schools, pre-schools and head start programs. Both agencies will provide programming to local groups and organizations such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and faith-based groups. WRC and the CAC will also provide training and education to staff and teachers within the schools and community organizations. Age appropriate and current topical curriculums will continue to be developed.
In addition to education and outreach, counseling and advocacy services will be provided to those students and families experiencing dating violence, sexual abuse, stalking, domestic violence, and/or child abuse. The overall goal of the project is the educate and inform children and teens about the dynamics of domestic and sexual abuse among families and within dating relationships in order to promote an understanding of healthy relationships to break the intergenerational cycle of family violence and work toward our common goal of ending domestic and sexual violence in our community.
Helping Children Do Well: Academic Readiness
Lead Agency: Susquehanna County Interfaith
Description: The Interfaith Pathway program creates a positive nurturing community environment which will allow individuals the possibility of walking down a pathway towards personal success. Youth and family members will be able gain personal confidence in the soft skills needed to be successful in the work force today. Interfaith’s Back to School Shoe and backpack program provides new quality school shoes, back packs and school supplies to children and teens, providing the perfect gateway to the Pathways program. Any high school students or family member enrolled in the Back to School Shoe program will be offered the opportunity to participate in the Pathways program is to further their personal and professional development. Other agencies such as Trehab’s workforce development, Women’s Resource Center and Youth Advocate, as well as, Mountain View School District and Elk Lake School District also invite their students to participate in the Pathways program as a goal of providing professional and personal development. Once a young person is enrolled in the Pathways Connection program each individual will begin working with a volunteer coordinator who will provide personal job coaching, frequent goal evaluations, relationship development with the family support system, and regular interaction with the cooperating school or organization. All of these activities will be learned in a unique thrift store setting.
The job coaching will enable each individual to learn new skills, such as increased communication skills,
creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. Most importantly, there will be an emphasis on shifting their thought process from “What am I getting… to what am I becoming?” in an effort to help individual become more self-empowered.