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Family Support Services

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Child Day Care, Children & Youth

Mission: Our programs strive to prevent and treat child abuse, neglect and to treat developmental delays, improve parenting skills and to prepare children for success in school and life.

Programs: The school-based programs support working families by offering before- and after-school child care and half-day kindergarten to over 1,000 children. These programs, hosted in radnor and haverford townships, are mission-specific, revenue producing programs that help to support our services for urban, low-income families otherwise not funded by state and municipal contracts. Haverford has all three programs; radnor township is in its second year of full day kindergarten, thus we only provide before and after school programming in that township. The school-based program curriculum was designed to help children reach developmental benchmarks and the annual schedule coincides with the school district's calendar. This curriculum focuses on providing a well-rounded educational program where children are safe, happy, and developing new skills daily. The "before school" morning program prepares children for a full day of learning through active engagement in activities prior to beginning their school day. Kindergarten-aged children in haverford township attend the kindergarten enrichment program which compliments and enhances the local school district's curriculum. This program builds upon the skills children develop in the kindergarten classroom by reinforcing those skills during fun, educational activities developed by certified teachers. The "after school" program has grown rapidly, hosting many more new students and families each year. Supervised by a team of certified teachers, children receive homework assistance and participate in extracurricular activities. These activities include: outdoor and indoor play, art and crafts, yoga, and martial arts. The brookline academy preschool opened in haverford township in september, 2014 and serves children ages 3-5 in an academically based preschool program preparing children for transition to kindergarten. Again, this is a mission driven program serving families in delaware county who need a safe, flexible academic preschool setting for their children while they work. In addition to these programs, family support services works with the village (previously named presbyterian children's village) and haverford township to offer two summer camp programs for children. These mission-driven camp programs, held in july and august, provides a safe, educational , fun environment for children during the summer, encouraging play while motivating them to utilize critical thinking skills for all activities.

family school was the agency's first program, and its philosophy and practical techniques inform much of the agency's work across each division. This innovative program is designed to overcome identified child abuse and neglect by working with parents and children together in a therapeutic and educational environment. Family school is a center-based parenting and early childhood education program which serves a population of children and families, referred by the philadelphia department of human services (dhs), who have been affected by child abuse and neglect. There is one site hosting the family school program, our new south philadelphia site at 33rd and reed. Our focus has been to serve families with very young children age's birth to 5; however, at the request of dhs and some of the community umbrella agencies, in an effort to accommodate families where the parent(s) is employed or otherwise engaged during the day, as well as to address the needs of this older, yet still vulnerable population, we recently expanded our census to include children ages 6-10 and added an evening and weekend component of this very critical program. This is a very new addition, with the first classes having begun in october, 2016. Since inception, the goal of family school has remained consistent; to create a family dynamic which will keep families safely together whenever possible and assist families with reunification if their children have been placed in foster care. Led by a multidisciplinary team of teachers, aides, parent educators and social workers; parents are able to learn and play with their children in a safe, supervised individual classroom setting. This team of educators teaches parenting skills and child development, models appropriate behaviors toward children, and monitors parent/child interaction while redirecting parent behavior by providing intensive intervention and supervision. Parents learn a wide range of parenting skills and work toward their individualized goals outlined at the time of their enrollment. Parents confront their actions and work to overcome their challenges in an environment that is supportive yet still holds them accountable. In many cases, they must address their own histories of childhood and adolescent trauma. Families attend this "center based" program for two, five-hour days each week. The evening and weekend program is condensed to 7 hours, and maintains the home visiting component, described below. In-addition to these services, social workers provide in-home intervention, visiting clients' homes to help them continue developing skills they are learning at family school. In-home services assist social workers in accurately assessing each parent's ability to translate the skills learned at family school into their everyday lives. Two years ago, family school added a behavioral health component to its programming by partnering with the village to establish an on-site satellite mental health office. The therapist from the village has office space at family school and is available to assist staff with any negative behavioral issues exhibited by our clients. This therapist can also provide assessments, observations and therapy, when appropriate for children and parents. This is very helpful for staff as they remain open to learn new techniques for helping clients who have a history of trauma that impacts their ability to interact, internalize information, adjust behavior and mindsets and receive feedback in a group setting. Parents leave family school with the following skills:* enhanced parental capacity to nurture and bond with their child* enhanced ability to communicate with the child* enhanced ability to engage in developmentally appropriate educational activities with their child based on a thorough understanding of a children's developmental stages and the behavior that accompanies each stage* enhanced knowledge of nutrition, portion control, menu planning, budgeting* enhanced knowledge of alternative disciplinary practices* enhanced social skills- navigation of systems-medical, educational,* enhanced life skills- appropriate dress, interview skills, computer skillschildren leave family school with:* improved language skills* improved cognitive skills* improved social and emotional development* improved motor skills coordination* improved school readiness skills* improved conflict resolution skillsin fy17, family school served parents and children through center-based parenting and early childhood education programming; families were enrolled in the program for an average of 7-10 months. An estimated 85% of parents leave the program with an enhanced parental capacity to raise and nurture their children safely and successfully; an estimated 90% have an increased awareness and understanding of children's developmental stages; an estimated 75% are able to apply all that they learned and can implement these skills at home. The percentage decrease from previous years is due to factors beyond the programs' control and is described below. Many parents with children in foster care have additional goals to meet prior to their children returning to the home; a solid housing plan, safe environment, and additional mental health treatment, etc. In addition, some parents are able to learn new skills but due to other cognitive and external challenges are unable to succeed in transferring those skills into practical application. However, their attendance in family school's programming certainly increases their chance of reunifying with their children. In addition, the skills learned are able to be put to use if the parent has children in the future. Through continued attendance, they are able to exhibit skills that show the court and dhs that they are in a much better position to parent their children once other barriers are removed. The majority of parents who have their children living with them are able to maintain their children at home; a direct result of their enhanced skills learned in the program and the social work intervention received. A large amount of children also benefit from family school programming. The children leave the program with a broad set of skills that support school readiness as follows: * 76-82% of children have progressed in the area of cognitive development. They are better equipped to problem solve and demonstrate a positive approach to learning* 64-72% of children have progressed in the area of language development. They experienced an increased level of language comprehension, are able to follow directions, use expressive vocabulary, and engage in conversation* 85-93% of children have progressed in area of physical development. This includes gross and fine motor skills. They are more adept when demonstrating traveling skills, balancing skills, and strength and coordination while using their fingers and hands. * 61-74% of children have progressed in the area of social-emotional development. They develop an increase ability to regulate their own emotions and behaviors, sustain positive relationships, interact with peers, and participate cooperatively in group settings. * 56-63% of preschool aged children have improved in school readiness. This includes skills developed in all of the above mentioned areas and additional skills, such as letter recognition, recognizing own name, and counting.

the early intervention division (ei) provides services to philadelphia children three to five years old who have delays in their cognitive, physical, or social/emotional development. Certified teachers, speech, occupational, and physical therapists provide direct early intervention services to preschool children. Working in a familiar environment for each child, the community early intervention contractors who are therapists and special instructors provide services in homes, child care centers, preschools, shelters, libraries, and other locations selected by parents and guardians. Before a child is referred to us, an individualized education plan (iep) is developed with the input of the parents, based off of the assessment the child received to determine their specific needs. The iep is based on the results of the assessment which measured the current development and skill level relative to age appropriate developmental milestones of language, fine motor, and gross motor skills. Informed by the goals developed in each iep, teachers and therapists are able to educate children through a variety of fun and educational activities which are designed to correct developmental delays, enhance lifelong learning, and increase educational success. The early intervention center, located in west philadelphia, serves three-to-five year-olds who have significant developmental delays in a center-based educational setting. Children receive intensive educational services based on their assessment and individualized education plan. As in the community based early intervention program, the center-based students also work under the guidance of certified staff and teaching assistants. Children attend classes at determined intervals during the week, depending on what is required by each child's iep additionally, the early intervention division provides a comprehensive array of art and music therapy, for all children enrolled at the program center. Ei is also host to a support group for parents as they navigate the special needs of their children. In addition, the family academy preschool provides a flexible, fun academic setting for children. The children learn and play together, enhancing the learning experiences for all of the children while providing an excellent opportunity to teach tolerance, compassion and empathy at an early age. . This suite of programs assists working parents by providing services for families from 7:00a. M until 6:00p. M including before and after care. September through june the preschool also offers pre k count slots that families may meet the income eligibility guidelines of a family income less than 300% of federal poverty guidelines. Families may qualify for assistance through ccis too, another partner with family support services. As in the family school program, early intervention has partnered with the village to provide a behavioral health component to the program. The village addresses behavioral issues for some children in the program. Their services have been valuable to parents and staff who work together to learn about and manage child behaviors while addressing all issues which could affect a child's health, safety, development, or success.

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Helena S.


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