E-Newsletter April 2019

Employment Opportunities

We currently have an open position at A Step Ahead in Speech Therapy. If you’re looking for a fun, energetic and diverse team of professionals who share your passion for helping infants and toddlers, you’ve found us! Click here to go strait to our employment page, or click the following links for downloadable information.

Fund Development

Contributed by: Michelle Smith, Fund Development & Communications Officer

May the Fourth be with you and May YOU be with us on the Fourth!

Join us for our largest fundraising event of the year and help Support Families of Children with Special Needs and become One with the Force on May 4th, 2019 at the Landmark Convention Center in Tacoma. Enjoy a Silent and Live auction – Drinks and Dinner – Character Photos and Light-years of fun!

Our annual auction helps support the CARES Fund, which covers the cost of uncompensated care, so every child receives the necessary therapeutic support they need. For more information contact Michelle Smith at 253-471-2727 or michelles@asapc.org.

Get your Early Bird ticket specials $55 per person, $400 for a table of 8 ONLY until April 1st (no joke)

Huge thank you to Northwest Motorsport who is our Presenting Event Sponsor!

Do have a gift card you haven’t used? Drop it by the office! We can add it to our silent auction. Or perhaps, you know a business who wants to donate to our auction. We can provide a tax donation form. Just contact Michelle Smith michelles@asapc.org


Contributed by: A Step Ahead’s Team of Occupational & Physical Therapists

From OT:

Get down to eye level with the child; doing so will support the relationship between adult and child plus offer a chance to see the world from the child’s perspective

When teaching a child to use a spoon, place a bit of peanut butter on the spoon and give it to the child to practice. The peanut butter will stick to the spoon and allow the child multiple tries to move the spoon to the mouth

From PT:

Adults should try the movement activities and patterns themselves prior to practicing with the child.  Doing so will provide guidance about where the adult is to place their hands to support the child and help the adult understand the movement pattern.


Contributed by: A Step Ahead’s Team of Family Resources Coordinators

PCICC Spring Resource Fair

Join A Step Ahead’s Family Resources Coordinators at the Pierce County Interagency Coordinating Council’s SPRING RESOURCE FAIR. April 10th from 10am to Noon at the Boys & Girls Club (3875 South 66th St in Tacoma)

Come and visit our fir to learn about various resources activities and supports available in Pierce County for families with children with special healthcare needs, disabilities or learning concerns.

Download the flyer here for more info!

AMC Theatres Sensory Friendly Films

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes, and don’t forget to share your family fun with #AMCSensoryFriendly.

2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number for people to call for health and human service information and referrals and other assistance to meet their needs.

Meet Our Staff

Candy Watkins, Executive Director

Tell us about your background and/or education?

I spent my high school and college years in Ohio where I got my degree in Deaf Education.  Shortly after graduation, I moved to Washington State but was unable to find a full-time teaching position.  I ended up working in the auction industry for 15 years, leaving my teaching dreams behind me.  However, working with children with special needs continued to call me, and in 1990 I learned about the early intervention world.  I knew that this was where I wanted to be! I became a home-based teacher for 10 years in Pierce County thoroughly enjoying all the kids and families I met.

However, I began to recognize the need to help bring more therapy to young children in their natural environments. Luckily, I was able to get a contract to start a third agency in the community to serve about 50 children.  Another teacher I was working with at the time joined me as I opened up A Step Ahead on October 1, 2001.  (10/1/01 – auspicious!) 9 months later, one of the other early intervention programs closed and we suddenly found ourselves hiring enough staff to serve 100 children!  We have continued to grow since then and now have a staff of 40 and serve over 300 children each month – definitely NOT my original vision, but I am proud of all the help we have given Pierce County families for 17 years and have enjoyed working with and learning from so many talented employees.

Describe a typical “day at the office” for you?

Although there are always plenty of administrative tasks to do around here, I have enjoyed continuing to teach a small number of children.  Seeing the children develop and getting to know their parents and families has always given me the most joy.  I also enjoy working on a variety of committees and task forces, including Pierce County Interagency Council, Project Child Success, and our state agency (ESIT)’s Personnel and Training Committee.

What do you like about ASAPC?

I love working around all these dedicated and fun-loving people! We all share a love of children and families and I never tire of hearing stories about successful home visits. We also like to laugh which helps the days go by quickly!

Any funny/best stories to share?

I love to be outside when the weather is nice and have tried to have our offices where we could at least enjoy our lunch outdoors.  Our first office was on the second floor of an old office building on S. Tacoma Way.  On sunny days, we would pass folding chairs out an office window and sit on the flat roof to eat our lunches!

Anything else you want to share?

We currently have several positions available.  If you are a therapist looking for a wonderful place to work, give us a call! Click here to visit our Employment Page!

Chelsea Siler, BOOST Coordinator

Tell us about your background and/or education?

I’ve been an early childhood special education teacher for 5 years, and prior to that, was a school psychologist in Washington and Oregon for 6 years.  Working in early intervention feels like the perfect fit- it is a joy to get to do this work with families and watch young children learn and develop.  Within this field, I am particularly interested in language development as well as infant/toddler mental health. At A Step Ahead, where I’ve worked for 2.5 years, I recently started overseeing the BOOST program, and working primarily with children who are in foster care. 

What do you like about ASAPC?

I love working with people who are as inspired by the kids and families that we work with as I am.  Our staff are positive, creative and supportive of each other.  We have a variety of professional experiences and backgrounds, and I constantly am learning new things from my co-workers.

Anything else you want to share?

Outside of work, I love to travel (16 countries, 36 states, and counting!), cook, hike and read.  I’m a competitive rower, and am also training for a cycling trip in Italy this spring.

Megan Brooks, Early Intervention Teacher

Tell us about your background and/or education?

       I have been working in Early Childhood for over 12 years, 9 of them in Preschool settings such as Head Start and Universal/Public Pre-K through the school districts. I moved my family back to Washington in 2016, which is where I found A Step Ahead and fell absolutely in love with the birth to three age group!

I was home schooled from 2nd grade through my senior year in high school, which coincidentally laid the perfect foundation for home-based early intervention! I participated in Running Start through Pierce College, and then earned my Bachelors degree in Special Education from a very small Environmental Arts college in central Vermont (my graduating class was just over 100 students), graduating at the ripe old age of 20. I am currently in the final year of my Master in Teaching degree through City University of Seattle, working towards dual licensure in elementary education as well as P-12 Special Education.

Describe a typical “day at the office” for you?

I live out towards the south end of our service area, and so I do much of my paperwork remotely from home or in the study rooms at local libraries. I work with lots of families who live out in the more rural areas such as Roy, Eatonville, Orting, and even Ashford. Usually I pass through the office in the early mornings before anyone else comes in- I enjoy the quiet! Aside from normal staff meetings though, I tend to be a pretty rare sight most days.

What do you like about ASAPC?

I love the family-style culture at ASAPC. The staff here are supportive and nurturing, both to each other and to the families that we serve. On any given day, there are multiple opportunities for problem solving and collaboration as we explore new strategies and activities to support children in their development. Working for ASAPC has been an experience like no other that I have ever encountered, and after working with the families and staff in this setting, I cannot picture myself ever going back to a classroom setting!

Anything else you want to share?

Fun facts most people don’t know about me:

I actually am a trained and accomplished musician. I started playing the Piano and singing when I was 3 years old. I also played the Viola, Clarinet, and drums with the Puyallup School District and played in a hand-bell choir through my senior year of High School. I have performed across the United States, and even did a Choral tour through Wales and England  both singing and accompanying the Concert Choir and Madrigal group!

My original plan after finishing my undergraduate degree, was to pursue a career in Pediatric Music Therapy! I was accepted to a competitive Masters/Licensure program at Drexel University…until my husband and I decided that Philadelphia would not be a great fit for our (then) 2 toddlers.