The Highland County Board of DD (HCBDD) has grown early childhood services, expanding the preschool program located at Hills and Dales, broadening early intervention services to include speech, occupational and physical therapies and becoming a provider of Help Me Grow services in the county.
In 2014, the preschool program consisted of two classrooms with a combined total of approximately 22 children. In 2016, a third classroom was added bringing the number of preschoolers being served to just under 40 children. For the 2017-18 school year, the program has added a fourth classroom with 49 children currently enrolled.
As one parent commented, “I am the parent of a typically developing preschooler and I love that my child attends the same preschool class as the child with special needs. It gives my child the opportunity to develop understanding, compassion and acceptance of a child who may be different than her.”
A family member of a student with special needs commented that they, too, love the fact that their child attends a preschool program with both children with and without special needs. The benefits for their children are tremendous, having typical peers as role models and developing friendships which make the transition to public schools much easier.
HCBDD has hired Chelsey Seeling as the educational coordinator for the preschool program beginning with this school year. Seeling is highly qualified receiving a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education preK-3, a master’s of science degree in education, and a principal license preK-6 from the University of Dayton.
Early Intervention Services have greatly expanded over the past several years with the addition of the therapies and two new services options – aquatic therapy and the PLAY project. Aquatic therapy is delivered in partnership with the YMCA in Hillsboro. The Play Project is an evidence- based model, based upon intervention that is based on how children learn best. Christie Parker, HCBDD occupational therapist, is certified to provide both the aquatic therapy program and the Play Project.
Over the past year, the Highland County Board of DD also became a provider for Help Me Grow Services in Highland County. The Help Me Grow program has several distinct service lines including Child Find, Central Coordination and Home Visiting.
Child Find is the function which helps locate children in need throughout the county. Central Coordination is the function which accepts a referral for service and then outlines to the referring party the agencies which may be able to meet the needs of the child. Home Visiting consists of a certified practitioner going to the home and working with the child and the family using best practices for child development. Both Child Find and Home Visiting are functions being performed by the Help Me Grow team led by Kathy Harmon, who has been with HMG for 16 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human service management and a master’s degree in early childhood education.
The Hills and Dales Early Childhood Center houses the preschool program, the Early Intervention and Help Me Grow teams, as well as a play center which hosts regular play groups for children under age 3.
For more information about early childhood services contact the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities at 937-393-4237.
Submitted by Kraig Walker.