Linda Leveque and Amanda Faulkner of Frontier Community Services.
While that jolly old guy in the red suit has finished his house calls with bags of toys for another year, the trained professionals at Frontier Community Services will continue to call on families with bags of toys throughout the New Year. It's part of a program known as Early Intervention Services for children from birth to 3 years of age living in the Central Kenai Peninsula and Aluetian/Pribilof Islands that may be having challenges in one or more areas of development. "We go to homes where children are experiencing developmental delays or may be at risk of developing delays and we create a home program for them and their families in the home," Linda Leveque, Frontier Community Services Early Intervention Educator, told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce recently.
According to Leveque the first years of a child's life are the most important ones in their development, "The goal of our program is to identify kids early so we can put the interventions in place so that by the time they reach kindergarten they are more at age level." Children develop at their own rate and infants and toddlers learn through playing. Helping parents find toys that stimulate the child's development most is the fun job of the early intervention professionals at Frontier Community Services, "It's a wonderful job and we are very lucky to be able to do this with children and their families and our favorite toy is always the one that motivates the child the most. It may be a green frog, thunder stick, or a weighted ball, we have gigglers that vibrate for oral motor development as well as stimulating leg muscles to get them moving," added Leveque.
Developments included in the early intervention program include movement, learning, speech and language, vision, and social/emotional. Eligible children include those born prematurely, children diagnosed with a disability such as hearing impairment, Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, children at risk of developing a delay, or whose evaluation indicates a delay in one or more developmental areas. "Parents are often the first to know when their child needs a helping hand, and are welcome to call us for a free developmental screening. It's always interesting for parents to know where the child is developmentally as well as medically whether there is a problem or not. Giving the right help to infants and toddlers makes a difference that lasts a lifetime," says Leveque. Should a delay be identified during the screening, the evaluation will determine if a child is eligible for early intervention services. The infant learning programs are primarily funded by grant monies from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Parents may bring their child into Frontier Community Services on K-Beach Rd, any Saturday for an evaluation or call 262-3144 for an appointment.
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