A STEP AHEAD E-NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2018

FUND DEVELOPMENT

Contributed by: 
Michelle Smith, Fund Developer & Communications Officer

SAVE THE DATE

Plan to Join us on a date not so far, far away…Saturday May 4, 2019 at Tacoma’s Landmark Convention Center as we support families of children with special needs and become One with the Force! This fun and exciting night is our largest fundraising event of the year! Silent and Live Auction, Dinner and Drinks, Character Photos…a night not to be missed!
Visit asapc.org and our Facebook site in January for more information.

Annual Report:

Recently released our 2018 Annual Report 

Inspire Others

Recently we featured a beautiful girl with Downs in our Annual Report. Sammy has been receiving services with A Step Ahead since she was four months old. Today, she is bubbling with joy and her bright eyes are as captivating as her smile is contagious. Sammy’s parents wanted to share their experience to help other parents: 
“You are not alone. Having a child with special needs can be challenging but it’s what you make of it! We know – it’s easy to feel isolated, but there is hope and help. Sammy fills our days with love and life, we couldn’t imagine our lives any other way. Truly a blessing” – Aaron and Patricia

Did you know that parents/caregivers can be inspired by your story? Learning about challenges that other families face can be a source of inspiration for parents with similar experiences.

We are currently interviewing families, if interested please email Michelle at michelles@asapc.org or call 253-471-2727.

STRATEGIES

Contributed by:
Jenn Black, Early Intervention Teacher

Share vs. Wait

The holiday season often brings many gatherings with family and friends. For toddlers, the holiday season can bring many tantrums due to difficulties related to sharing with family and friends. Sharing is a very difficult concept for toddlers to understand and accept. Well-meaning adults often try to help when a sharing struggle happens; however, it can backfire, and the toddlers learn the exact opposite of what we intend! Consider the familiar scenario:
Two children want to play with the same toy. Both have their hands on the toy and are pushing, pulling and yelling “mine!” This escalates until one child has the toy and the other is empty-handed; which leads to hurt feelings and the unspoken new roles of “possessive child” and “insulted child.” A nearby well-meaning adult witnesses the sharing struggle and wants to help the insulted child. The adult takes the toy from the possessive child while saying, “You have to share the toys!” and gives it to the insulted child. Both children respond to the well-meaning adult’s intervention, but neither is satisfied with their new understanding of the word “share.” A simple construction of the new meaning might be: “share means not mine.” As sharing struggles are replayed this way, the new meaning of “share” becomes learned as a negative concept which causes the toddlers to continue the struggle when told to share their toys.
Adults who want to help toddlers cope with the expectations for sharing can try changing their own words and actions. Try to replace the word “share” with the word “wait.” Waiting is a more concrete concept than sharing because “wait” is learned to mean “I get a turn, but not right now.” The adult can demonstrate what to do WHILE waiting by talking about waiting and distracting the toddler with another toy. Use the child’s name and describe what is happening, for example:
“Jack is playing with the red truck, so Jill has to wait. Waiting is hard, and you can do hard things! Jill can play with the bus while waiting for the red truck.”
The adult that talks about waiting and distracts Jill by remaining close will send unspoken messages to both Jack and Jill that the wish to play with the red truck is equally important. Jack will understand the message that he gets a turn to play with the truck. Jill will probably not like waiting but she may be distracted by the adult’s attention. The adult can help the toddlers trade toys and shift attention to Jack, so he gets a turn to wait and be distracted. It might be said like this:
“It’s now Jill’s turn to play with the red truck. Let’s trade – that’s right, Jack gives the red truck to Jill and Jack can have a turn to play with the bus.”

Waiting, taking turns and sharing are LIFELONG skills! Consider how many times a day you wait while at stop lights, in the grocery line, at the post office or for an appointment with your doctor. We can help our children by showing them how to wait as toddlers so that they can eventually become developmentally appropriate preschoolers who learn to share! 

MEET OUR STAFF

Contributedby: 
Harmony McNelley, Early Intervention Teacher

Maurene Kosko, Family Resources Coordinator

Maurene is a Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) with A Step Ahead. Maurene earned her degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as a preschool teacher for over 17 years. She has run and operated her own preschool, had positions as a teacher in Headstart and ECEAP as well as working in Special Education Classrooms for Local area school districts.
Through working with children with special needs and their families, Maurene grew more passionate about this population. One of her main goals is to teach, encourage and support families so that they are able to advocate for their child’s learning and get their needs met.
Transitioning into a role as an FRC was the perfect opportunity for her- she is still able to be involved with children by watching them succeed and grow. In her spare time, she loves to hike, travel and explore, and spend time with her family and friends.

Amber Fessler, Occupational Therapist

Amber graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND and has worked as a pediatric OT for 13 years.  She has been with A Step Ahead Pierce County for one year and loves to help support families and children to be the best they can be.  She has special interests and extended education in sensory processing, vision rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation, feeding and reflex integration.  In her spare time, she enjoys camping and fishing with her family, playing with her kids and knitting. TIP: You yourself can often be the best therapeutic tool.  By adjusting your arousal state, or state of being, you can help another person feel more calm and secure or you can wake their body and mind up.  Self-awareness of your own energy level is key to knowing how it can affect others.

Jenn Black, Ed.D., Early Intervention Teacher

Jenn is a Washington State licensed special education teacher who has served families of children with disabilities for 20 years. Her professional interests include: hearing loss, language development, play skills and parent education. She is grateful to all the families who invite her into their lives and feels blessed to play with infants and toddlers as her work.

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

211

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

COMING SOON! STAY TUNED

Meet Our Staff

ALYSSA ROLEKE

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.

CASSANDRA FIORINA

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.

DAVID POZOLINSKI

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.