Reaching young minds before Preschool

The Early Childhood Outreach Program, Crawford-Clark Prevention Initiative, is growing thanks to a large grant.

Posted: Oct 3, 2018 4:12 PM
Updated: Oct 3, 2018 6:41 PM

CLARK COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) - There's good news for one Illinois Outreach Program. It recently received a grant big enough it was able to expand. Now, more kids ages 0 to 3 are being reached.

We’re talking about the Crawford-Clark Prevention Initiative. The program launched a few decades ago at Hustonville, Illinois schools.

A group of children taking part in a CCPI Play Group. (WTHI Photo, Lacey Clifton)

This year CCPI is offering a much bigger program thanks to a grant worth $2.3 million dollars over 5 years. Program Director Angie Bogard was able to hire 7 new staff members. The program went from serving 17 kids to now being able to reach over 100 children in Crawford and Clark Counties.

Toni Budd's one-year-old daughter Lorelei is part of the Crawford-Clark Prevention Initiative. She says, "Just watching her interact with the other kids, it makes me feel really good that she's such a good kid in there."

Through the program's playgroups, Budd says her daughter is coming out of her shell.

Budd shares, "She's gotten a lot better at sharing her toys with other kids, because she has to learn how to do that in there, and she takes snack a lot better now."

But playgroups are just one part of CCPI. The program is actually centered around home visits. During those visits, program workers help parents keep their kids' progress on track.

Home Visitor Brittany Hill says, "We offer screenings, developmental and social-emotional. We bring activities in for the kids to do with their parents."

As for parents, they're relieved this option is available so the first day of Pre-K isn't so scary.

Budd says, "It makes me feel pretty good because with our first one, we didn't have anything like this, and it was really hard to get her socialized with the other kids. Whereas here I think she'll be a lot better with this program."

CCPI also offers group connections for parents at Parent Education events and Family Fun Nights. Workers can also provide information on where to locally access assistance, clothing, and food resources.

CCPI Leaders say the program is free and offered Year-round. It is open to all qualifying families in Crawford and Clark Counties. However, it is especially targeted toward expectant parents, teen parents, parents of premature babies, single parents, low-income families, or those serving in the military.

There are playgroups for children ages 0-3 offered three days a week.

They take place from 9-10:30 on Monday’s at Hutsonville Elementary School, 9-10:30 on Tuesday’s at Robinson Washington Grade School, and 9-10:30 at Casey Monroe Elementary School.

Any interested parents of a birth to 3-year-old child can call Angie Bogard at 618-563-4812 for more information. If the family does not qualify for home visits after an initial evaluation is done, they are still welcome to attend play dates and receive a variety of other resources.

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