Inaugural A STEP AHEAD E-Newsletter

Hello and welcome to the introductory e-newsletter!
The intention of this e-newsletter is to provide helpful information about our agency and services. Each edition of the newsletter will include current information related to: our dedicated team of people, community resources, family-friendly events, strategies to support child development and opportunities for donation. Please read through the Meet the Staff section to learn about our team of specialists, teachers, therapists and staff who are the heart of our agency. Find out where to go and who to talk to in your community for help, information and family-friendly outings in the Community Resources section. If you are searching for ideas and information about child development, check out the Strategies and Tips section. Finally, if you want to know about our funding sources and how you can donate, please read the Fund Development section. We are excited to offer this e-newsletter and hope it is helpful and informative!

Fund Development

No matter the scope of the delay, A Step Ahead is compassionately committed to improving the development of all infants and toddlers in South Pierce County. Each family receives the maximum services their child needs regardless of their ability to pay.

Our multi-disciplinary team is comprised of Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists; Special Educators; Social Workers, Infant Mental Health Specialists; and Family Resource Coordinators. Did you know, according to a recent study on early education as an economic investment, shows that every $1 spent on early intervention services saves $17 to society in future cost? Such an investment equates to thousands of saved dollars just in one generation!

Many of our services are reimbursed by federal, state, and local dollars; however, insurance reimbursements cover only 26% of billed services. Additionally, more than 55% of our families are on public insurance which pays a fraction of the true cost. Families with private insurance often need financial assistance as they struggle to meet their high co-pays and deductibles.

To help with all these unrecovered costs, the CARES Fund was established. This fund helps to cover the costs of uncompensated care, so every child receives the necessary therapeutic support they so desperately need. Donations from this fund includes other wrap-around services, such as our community-based field trips and play groups; as well as therapy and teaching supplies and equipment.

Furthermore, A Step Ahead is the only agency in the region to offer specialized early intervention care to any infant or toddler in foster care. Our BOOST supports both the child and foster parent through the difficult transition out of traumatic abuse and into safety. The BOOST program is entirely dependent on generous donations and grants.

If you would like to contribute to the CARES Fund or BOOST program, you may do so by donating online through our website or on our Facebook site. Thank you for all your continued support!

Community Resources


Looking for resources around Pierce County? Dial 211 to get connected with a statewide resources network for health and human services, all with an easy to remember phone number. With information on health, housing, food, and material goods, 211 is a one-stop shop that locates relevant resources for you and your family. Simply give them a call, provide a few details to help determine eligibility and they can send you a list of community programs that best align with your needs.

Childcare Aware

Childcare Aware is a great option for families looking for high-quality child care. They work with you to find a licensed childcare option that best meets your family’s needs. With a few details from you, Childcare Aware can put together a customized list of childcare centers in your area that fits your family’s unique set of preferences. Their website also has a great resources page that covers community resources, childcare subsidies and child development. Services are available in all languages.

Pierce County Energy Assistance

Families can get help paying winter heating bills Pierce County’s Energy Assistance Program. The EAP assists families with costs by paying heating bills directly to utility companies. A limited pool of funding is available for the 2018 season. For more information and to determine your eligibility, give them a call (855) 798-HEAT.

Center for Strong Families

The Center for Strong Families’ motto is “Earn It, Keep It, Grow It.” Their team takes a two-pronged approach to helping Pierce County families improve their economic situation. They work to grow your income potential by connecting you to employment opportunities while providing financial counseling to help you best manage your income. Services are free and are offered in partnership with the Bethel School District, Sound Outreach and United Way of Pierce County. For more information, give them a call at 253-719-3079.

Strategies & Tips


Meet Our Staff


Alyssa is an East Coast transplant who has worked as a Family Resource Coordinator with A Step Ahead since May 2017. She has a B.A. in Communications and worked in childcare for over 8 years, working directly with children as well as growing into leadership roles and focusing on program development. She has worked in non-profit for over 5 years and finds it an extremely rewarding calling. She has a passion for working with children and families and enjoys her role as an FRC because she loves being able to work alongside families to support and empower them. In her spare time, Alyssa loves to bake, create DIY projects and travel.


Hi, I’m Cassandra! I am the team’s Infant Mental Health Therapist. I received my master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2015 with a certificate in infant mental health. I have worked with all ages in the past in a community mental health clinic, but love working with our 0-3 population! Spending time with caregivers and children, brainstorming ideas for challenging behaviors, holding the child’s experience in mind and finding new ways to learn through play are some of my favorite things about my job. I have been trained in various treatment models including Promoting First Relationships, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.


I have been practicing as a speech language pathologist assistant for 15 years. I have worked in the public schools and private speech clinics serving ages four through adult with communication challenges. The past 6 years, I have been serving children ages 1-3 in early intervention. My specialty is Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC). We use AAC to assist those with limited verbal communication (e.g. pictures, sign language, devices, etc.). Recently, I received my Infant Mental Health Specialist endorsement from the state of Washington to better serve our children and their families. I gravitated to early intervention for two main reasons: the great progress made by the kiddos at this age and the opportunity to work with the child’s family and caregivers. When I’m not at the office, I enjoy traveling and playing music.