The Help Me Grow program, at the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center in New Boston, provides services to expecting mothers and to children age 3 and under with developmental delays.
“They fall into two categories. First we have the Help Me Grow Intervention, which for is children that have a delay or diagnosis that puts them at risk for having developmental delays,” said Rebecca Wheelersburg, Help Me Grow program coordinator. “The second part of that is Home Visiting, working with families and in-home curriculum. It’s kind of like pre-preschool.”
The program works closely with the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which provides early childhood developmental specialist to evaluate the children and work closely to build their muscles, speech, and motor skills. They also assist families with gas cards to travel to providers in Waverly or Columbus. The program is available to anyone, regardless of their income.
“Early intervention has no income limit,” Wheelersburg said.
The Help Me Grow program also assists young expecting mothers, to make sure they have access to complete their education or connect them with proper medical care for themselves and their child.
“We’re making sure they have what they need to stay in school, as well as making sure they get signed up with a medical home and they aren’t just using Urgent Care. Making sure kids are getting immunized on time. Sometimes new moms don’t know that, and aren’t sure what to do,” Wheelersburg said.
Each month the Help Me Grow program hosts a special event with the Portsmouth Public Library, inviting their families to the library for storytime and activities, such as crafts, snacks, an Easter Egg hunt, or visiting with Santa Claus. Wheelersburg said it’s a great way to introduce many of their families to the library and the many services it provides.
“It’s also a time for those families -- because some of our kids are medically fragile they are very protective of those kids. And the library has toddler times all the time, but they do this for just our kids so our families feel a little bit more protected. Plus it allows our families to network a little bit and get to know each other,” Wheelersburg said.
For her, seeing the families change as their children grow is a very special part of the job.
“They’ll do an activity and then two or three weeks later they’ll go back to the home and you’re not sure if the family got it. And they’ll say, ‘You won’t believe, he was saying five words and now he’s saying 10.’ Or a child who doesn’t speak a lot is now using sign language to ask for what he wants. All they did before was scream, but because of the developmental specialist and work with early intervention this child now can at least communicate,” Wheelersburg said, tearing up at the memory of seeing her families grow.
For more information about Help Me Grow, contact Rebecca Wheelersburg at the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center at 740-354-0285. For more information about the ESC, visit online at www.scoesc.org, or follow on Facebook and Twitter.