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Central Valley-United Way team to ready kids for kindergarten

Thanks to an anonymous grant, the United Way of Mohawk Valley and the Greater Utica Area is funding a Family School Coordinator Position to serve our Thunder community. The Family School Coordinator (FSC) will play a critical role connecting families with our school community. The goal is to work with families to increase each child’s readiness level for kindergarten.

The FSC will have an office at Harry M. Fisher Elementary School. The FSC will visit with families who have children ages 0-4, to help parents prepare their children for the years ahead. The visits may take place at school or in the child’s home.

“Children achieve developmental milestones at different rates, so it’s no surprise that they arrive at school with different levels of readiness,” said Ms. Lisa Hoffman, Director of Student Services for Central Valley.

“Parents often have questions about their child’s development. The Family School Coordinator will help parents assess their child’s needs and find the appropriate services, agency, or organization to meet these needs.”

“This is not a one-time visit, but the beginning of a relationship.” said Ms. Hoffman.

“We know early experiences in formative years play a major role in a child’s success as a student. Together with parents, the FSC will help arrange services if necessary, and offer assistance and training as parents ask the normal questions that arise when raising small children.”

“Raising children is a full-time, challenging job and sometimes parents need a little help or want some advice,” said Ms. Hoffman.

“The coordinator can advocate for parents and may serve as a school liaison between families and agencies.”

Services may include assisting in the obtainment of academic, behavioral/therapy interventions, parent training and in the obtainment of medical/mental health services.

Ms. Hoffman further stated, “We want to work with parents as they welcome their new baby home instead of waiting to meet them when they enter Pre-K. Through partnership and team work we can work to together to provide families with the resources they need to provide the best start possible.”

The Family School Coordinator complements the district’s plans for a school-based health center. If the center becomes a reality, it will provide education and physical and mental health services to school-age children. The United Way program would be a wraparound service, providing similar supports before students enter school.