E-Newsletter February 2020

Fund Development

Contributed by: Michelle Smith, Director of Development


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Hotel Murano



 Bring your entourage and get ready for an unforgettable night!

Your presence is requested at our 11th Annual Auction & Dinner supporting A Step Ahead!

Grab your signature cocktail and go for the big bucks at popular table games like Vegas Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, or Caribbean Stud Poker.

 Enjoy delectable Hors d’oeuvres as you stroll past the silent auction table, sure to dazzle any lifestyle. 

21+ Only

Attire: Dress to Impress!

Handicap and Hotel Valet Parking is available

Play & Stay at Hotel Murano 10% Discount:  bit.ly/murano_meetings

Introduction to BOOST at ASAPC

Contributed by Amy Mesec, BOOST Coordinator

What Is Boost?

The BOOST program supports infants and toddlers (birth to 3 years) living in foster care.  The focus of the BOOST program is to support the child’s social emotional growth along with supporting the entire family.  BOOST specifically targets healthy emotional development through Infant Mental Health services.  Infant Mental Health focuses on the relationship between infant and caregiver.  The goal is to create a sense of safety and security for the pair.  In addition to providing ongoing Infant Mental Health Services, BOOST tracks ongoing overall development of the child through regular screenings.  If the child’s development falls below what is typical for their age, BOOST helps the family secure outside resources to further promote healthy growth for the child.  BOOST also connects the family to various resources offered within the community.  Community resources may include Early Head Start programs, Community activities and events, and clothing/food bank programs.

How does this program differ from other programs for foster families?

BOOST is completely grant funded.  Early Intervention programs are funded through county and state funding. Children in the BOOST program must be residing in foster care and do not exhibit any developmental delays.  BOOST focuses on social emotional development and healthy relationships within the child’s family system.  Families work with the BOOST coordinator to establish a home visit schedule that works best for the family’s needs and schedule.  Some families schedule home visits on a weekly basis, while other families opt to have visits once per month. 

What is most rewarding about your position?

I love watching family relationships blossom.  Often when I begin with a family, the foster parents are feeling overwhelmed by all the appointments and court visits connected to the foster care system.  The child is also typically placed in their care as a result of some level of trauma, so the child can be dysregulated and exhibiting challenging behaviors.  Through our visits, the foster parents begin to better understand the behaviors and can implement appropriate strategies to help the child feel more adjusted and attached to their new family.  The result of this healthy attachment is more positive behavior from the child which positively impacts the family’s relationship.  I love watching the foster parents feel more confident and enjoy their foster child, as well as watch the child feel more connected and settled in their new family.  I also really enjoy the relationships I develop with the families.  It is bittersweet when the family no longer requires BOOST services!



Contributed by: Leslie Frazier, Speech-Language Pathologist

Strategies for Speech and Language Development in Infants and Toddlers

A parent is a child’s best first speech and language teacher.  Learning to understand language and speak is a complicated process that actually starts long before baby is even born.   But every parent can do a few things that will help baby learn to interact, listen, make sounds, and eventually carry on a conversation.  Here are a few simple strategies to help your child learn to communicate.   

  • Imitate faces your baby makes and give them faces to imitate. Maintain eye contact.
  • Clap your hands and play peek-a-boo. Use gestures like pointing and waving.  Give baby a chance to imitate your movements. 
  • Babble with your baby; use sounds like “ma,” “da,” and “ba.”Get excited when your baby babbles back.
  • Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes. This helps your baby learn the intonation and rhythm of speech.
  • Have “conversations” with your baby. Look your baby in the eyes.  When your baby makes sounds, imitate them and change the rhythm and intonation.   
  • Narrate your baby’s world. Talk about what you are doing throughout baby’s day:  cooking, meals, dressing, bathing, meeting new people, riding in the car, even doing household chores.   Tell him or her what you are doing.  Point to things and people and talk about them.  
  • Point to things and name the colors, shapes, or sounds they make. Count things as you pick them up.  
  • Imitate animal sounds, especially when looking at pictures, toys, or real animals. Baby will learn to associate the animal with the sound. Many of the animal sounds also help baby learn to deliberately make specific speech sounds.  
  • When your little one makes words (even accidentally) use what they said in a phrase or sentence. For example, if he or she says, “dada”, reply “Dada’s at work.”   This serves multiple purposes.   It gives the baby language patterns to follow.  It also acknowledges the baby’s attempts to interact with you, which gives the baby encouragement to “talk” more. 
  • Read with your child. It’s not important that you read every word. But try to talk about the pictures.  Ask your child simple questions and name pictures the baby touches or points to.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s speech and language development, you can speak with a speech and language pathologist.  You can also read parent resources at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association website: https://www.asha.org/public/ .


Contributed by the Family Resource Coordinator Staff at A Step Ahead

Do you need help to see if your child’s car seats are safely install?  Check out the attached flyer for more information about where you can drop in or schedule an appointment to have a professional check out your seats!

Meet Our Staff

A Step Ahead’s Fabulous Newsletter Committee

Meet the team of dedicated staff who bring you all of the useful information you’ve come to rely on throughout the year!

Michelle Smith, Director of Development

Newsletter Area: Fund Development

Tell us about your background and education?

Way back in the day, I was in the finance sector then was introduced to nonprofit and I’ve been hooked ever since 2005. Love giving back! I am so passionate about my field of Fund Development and Communications. My Fund Development nonprofit background consists of working in career development focusing on people with disabilities, Youth Development, Youth Sex Trafficking, and Homeless Youth. I have my BS from the University of Washington (go dawgs!!!) with my minor in Nonprofit Management. I also am a certified Grant Writer.

Describe a typical “Day at the Office” for you?

So, what is Fund Development? My primary role is to develop and implement a plan to raise funds. I do this through various ways such as, writing grants, managing all the donation streams, and organizing special events. I manage two committees: Fund Development Committee and Auction Committee. We are always looking for new volunteers! Right now, we are bustling around getting ready for our 11th annual Dinner & Auction on April 18th. Check out the website for more details!

I also manage the Facebook page, so please do contact me with relative content you’d like to share. Soon we will be launching active participation on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

What do you like about ASAPC?

The comradery at ASAPC is nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone is genuinely wonderful people!

Any Funny/Best Stories to Share?

David and I recently made a short video (I think it was supposed to be 1 minute long) which we thanked everyone for participating in our birthday celebration. We both had a horrible case of the giggles and took 2 hours to make the video! To make matters worse, my down feather vest was molting, and tiny feathers floated around during video shoot. Just adding to the hysterical laughter! These mysterious feathers can still be found in his office today, randomly floating around! It was so funny that David made a bloopers video that can be seen on our Facebook page. Enjoy! 

Anything else you want to share?

I think what I love most about ASAPC is how the families react to the providers. I am blessed to see so many comments on our Facebook page praising what our providers do for families and their children. Whenever I see a comment, I always pass it along to the provider, so they know how much they’re loved and appreciated! Our providers work tirelessly and still give 100% to every child they see. Again…love this place! 

Harmony McCann, Evaluation Team Coordinator

Newsletter Area: Meet the Staff

Tell us about your background and education?

Worked as a ABA therapist for 4 years, BA in Psychology, WWU,  Masters in Early Childhood Special Education, UW.  Taught special education kindergarten in Auburn school district with an extended day for kids with autism.  Taught special education K-3

Describe a typical “Day at the Office” for you?  

Typical day, what’s that? 😊 I do eligibility evaluations 2-3 days a week, write reports, have IFSP meetings, evaluation team meetings, possibly a home visit, complete transfer and do consults. It’s part of why I love the job, every day is different!

What do you like about ASAPC?

I love that I get to meet families at the beginning of their journey.  It is magical to watch their children grow and to see their parents gain confidence in how to be their child’s best advocate! I also love working with co-workers who are passionate and invested in helping children and their families.

Any funny/best stories to share?

My kids keep asking me when I can be a “real teacher”  so I can have summers off again!

Anything else you want to share?

I’m just so appreciative of families welcoming us into their homes and allowing us to work with them and their precious children. That takes courage and a lot of dedication!

Leslie Frazier, Speech-Language Pathologist

Newsletter Area: Strategies

Tell us about your background and education?

Background: I worked almost 11 years in neuro-based therapy, mostly adults, with some birth to three and kids.  Then I worked 17 years in the public schools.  Last summer I started at ASAPC.  Education: BS in Speech and Hearing Science from Northern Arizona University (NAU) and a MS in Clinical Speech-Language Pathology from NAU.  MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Technology Integration from Grand Canyon University.

Describe a typical “Day at the Office” for you?

I usually get to the office between 6:45 and 7:30.  I start seeing clients between 8:00 and 9:00, and spend the entire day either in a child’s home or my mobile office (my car).  If I have time between a couple students, you can find me in a library or a familiar parking lot, doing paperwork. 

What do you like about ASAPC?

The staff if friendly.  The kids and families are amazing.   I enjoy being fairly independent, yet being supported by so many wonderful team members.

Any funny/best stories to share?

I was working with a kiddo who wasn’t talking much yet. He was wearing a sweater with Darth Vader on it.   Suddenly I hear, “Duh duh duh, dut dudah dut dudah,” in perfect pitch and rhythm.   I looked at him and said, “Are you singing Darth Vader’s theme?” To which he smiled and sang the next line.  I couldn’t believe it. 

Anything else you want to share?

I love my job.   It is so wonderful to spend time with my kiddos and their families, seeing them grow and becoming empowered to help their children learn. 

Sheree Haeder, Program Assistant

Newsletter Area: Web Extraordinaire

Tell us your background and education?  

I am a hairstylist by trade, I have been doing hair for 23 years.  In 2006 I started my own business as a Salon Owner, and quickly realized that when it’s good its great and when it’s slow – someone still has to pay the mortgage.  It was then that I took on a part time job in Accounts Receivable for a small family owned business in Tacoma.  Long story short, I’ve continued to work in various office settings, continually learning new skills.  I have enjoyed a variety of work from Accounts Receivable to Payroll to Account Executive.  All of which have given me an incredibly varied skill-set that is perfect for my work here at A Step Ahead.

Describe a typical “Day at the Office” for you?

Every day brings with it something new and exciting.  I schedule all of our families for their children’s evaluations.  So that is something that gets part of my time each day.  Other than that, one day I might be making edits to the website, one day I might be designing new flyers to get information out to families, and still another I might be running around from office to office to troubleshoot equipment and computer issues.

What do you like about ASAPC?

I love the team environment that can be found here.  There are always people who are willing to help you, no matter what you need help with.  It’s a special thing to work with such talented, focused and passionate people!  It’s also never boring here.  I work with people who PLAY for a living.  It’s SO MUCH FUN HERE!

Anything else you want to share?

It’s been a year full of changes for us around here, our founder and director retired in 2019, and one of our own took over as our new Executive Director.  We’ve experienced continual growth since I started in mid 2017.  And that has been no different, we are bursting at the seams in our office space – sharing desks, and working in hallways.  And yet everyone still has a great attitude.  We are all looking forward to the future of ASAPC together!