Friday, March 9, 2012

Be the Change: Grow the Future

In 2011, ywca clark county introduced our first spring appeal to the community and received a very warm response. At that time, we raised over $92,000 thanks to a generous match by an anonymous donor and from loyal supporters like you. These funds were distributed through the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Program which supports children who have been removed from their home because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

CASA volunteers investigate the case, monitor the child’s well-being and represent the child’s best interest in court. By applying spring appeal funds to attorney services, paralegal support, volunteer supervision and volunteer recruitment and retention, CASA was able to increase the number of children served, increase visits to foster homes, have a stronger voice in court and strengthen support for CASA volunteers.

This spring, we’re offering another opportunity to make a significant impact in the lives of Clark County children.

Watch for our annual appeal which will run from April to June, and will focus on the great work of ywca clark county’s Y’s Care Program. The staff and volunteers of Y’s Care provide high-quality preschool education to children and families from homeless, transitioning, or low-income circumstances. But that’s just the beginning. Y’s Care also provides a nutritious breakfast and lunch, Head Start Program, parent support and access to community resources and referrals.

In addition to all of this, Y’s Care is the 2nd entity in the country to implement an exciting, innovative program called Seeds of Empathy. Developed by Mary Gordon, Seeds of Empathy is a compliment of Roots of Empathy, an evidence-based classroom program that has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among schoolchildren while raising social and emotional competence and increasing empathy. At the heart of the Seeds of Empathy program is the participation of an infant and parent who engage students in the classroom.

During the first two weeks, a literacy coach follows a curriculum which supports interactive learning based on children’s literature. The children gather around to have a book read to them and participate in a Literacy Circle.  During the third week, a family coach follows a curriculum which supports experiential learning based on Family Visits where a baby and parent visit for up to half an hour. The children are invited to observe developmental milestones and read the baby’s cues. Over the eight months, the children come to understand and respect the baby as an individual with her own unique temperament and feelings. This leads the children to better understand their own uniqueness and feelings and the feelings of others.

The program has been very successful thus far and Leah Reitz, Director of Y’s Care, is hoping to continue the program in Fall 2012. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to offer this wonderful program to our students,” said Leah. “I see the success of other schools which have been doing this for years.  We are optimistic that we are making a positive difference in the lives of our future community members.”

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