Our program featured Nancy Frederick and Shelly Petro from the Third Street Alliance for Women and Children. Nancy serves as Director of the organization’s Learning Center which is a safe, affordable, licensed childcare center. The Center provides early childhood education for children from 6 weeks old up to age 13. The majority of the children come from the community at large but they also serve the children living in the Third Street shelter. The wide variety of ages means the children are educated in everything from toilet training to literacy, science, math, art, and computers. The summer learning program allows school age children to keep up with their reading.
Most of the children come from low-income families. The children receive the care and education they need and the parents have the freedom to pursue full time employment. The students come from varied backgrounds, some of which are traumatic. This amount of stress at home can result in behavioral issues that manifest in the classroom. The COVID situation produced disruptions in so many facets of life which made things even more difficult for these children. The Learning Center responded by creating a position for a Behavioral Health Specialist.
That position was filled last March by Shelly Petro. She has spent much of her time forming relationships and building trust with the students and their families. The unique circumstances of each child are analyzed. A team including Shelly, the parents, the teacher, and the child develop a strategy and an individualized goal plan. The plan includes measurable goals to monitor progress. Recent evaluations show that the vast majority of students that spend at least 90 days in the Learning Center show progress meeting developmentally appropriate benchmarks. The number of incidents that required Shelly’s intervention decreased from 11 in June 2021 to zero in December. The number of disruptive outbursts that halted classroom learning have also decreased. Children that need additional services are referred to agencies such as Easter Seals, Pinebrook, and IU20 services.