United Way Centre County | Library creates safe place to learn, play

November 23, 2013 

United, we can prepare our children to reach their potential.

Centre County Library and Strawberry Fields Inc., Centre County United Way partner agencies, are teaming up to do just that.

By offering free developmental screenings in an informal and nonthreatening atmosphere, we offer parents and caregivers the tools and information they need to thrive.

Screenings in young children are necessary for the assessment of a child’s developmental needs and as a tool for early identification of developmental disabilities. When administered in informal settings, such screenings offer parents and professionals the opportunity to observe young children when the child is most relaxed.

By structuring screenings as free-form play for children, parents and professionals have plenty of time for observation and discussion.

Studies show that 2 percent of young children are identified as developmentally delayed. The same study shows that, by school age, 11 percent of children tested are identified with the same delays.

Studies such as this show that increased testing is necessary in early childhood to identify developmental disabilities before school age to ensure a child’s needs are met at every stage in his or her growth.

Centre County Library will offer free developmental screenings featuring Strawberry Fields professional staff from 9 a.m. to noon the second Friday of each month, beginning Jan. 10.

Also in the coming year, the library, with the help of Strawberry Fields, will offer parent-child workshops, including information on a variety of developmental topics such as speech, behavior and adaptive skills. These workshops will take place in March and August for a limited number of families through preregistration.

Parent-child workshops, a technique created by Family Place Libraries in Centereach, N.Y., emphasize the role of parents as first and primary teachers of their children, connecting families with local professionals dedicated to a child’s developmental, health and wellness needs.

Because Centre County Library is a Family Place Library, we are committed to creating a center that is conducive to early literacy, parent education, socialization and family support.

Using creative space and developmentally appropriate toys and games, the library creates a safe and educational place for children of all ages. Programs are play-based and focus on parent-child interaction in a way that fosters deep family connections.

Together with Strawberry Fields and its professional and compassionate staff, we hope to be a useful resource for children and families throughout Centre County.

United, we are improving lives in Centre County.

Jennifer Cifelli is the communications director and Laura Sarge is the youth programming and outreach librarian at the Centre County Library. Susan Drenning is the early intervention director with Strawberry Fields Inc.

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