BY SHANNON HECK
Tanya is a teen mom who had Cara when she was 16 years old. Tanya began working with an Imprints Cares family educator shortly after she gave birth to Cara. In the last three years, Tanya has enrolled in, and was graduated from, Forsyth Tech with her High School Diploma, and is currently taking college level classes. She hopes to become a nurse and is working hard to achieve her goals. Tanya said, “I love doing the activities that the family educator brings with Cara. Cara loves to learn and can tell me all her colors, numbers, and shapes, and is currently learning her letters.” At 3 years old, Cara loves books and is on track to be ready for kindergarten.
Stories like Tanya and Cara’s underscore the importance of the Ready for School programs offered at Imprints Cares, a local education nonprofit that has been providing services to Forsyth County families for the last 50 years. Every child is born with tremendous potential, but what happens in his/her early environment plays a pivotal role in long-term development. In Forsyth County, 50% of students enter kindergarten already behind. Imprints Cares works to equip parents with the tools they need to raise children who are socially, emotionally and academically ready to succeed in school, keeping the achievement gap closed before it opens.
Imprints Cares helps parents become their children’s first, best teachers. Family educators in the Pediatric Holistic Health Initiative, based in several pediatric offices, function as part of the primary care team and serve more than 500 children every year. Our family educators offer free screening and support for common concerns that doctors lack time to address. Maria Stockton, a family educator based at the Downtown Health Plaza, describes a typical day, “I might perform a developmental assessment on a child whose father is worried that he is not talking as much as his siblings did at that age, or strategize with a young mother about how best to address her daughter’s sleep issue, or assist a new mom with breastfeeding concerns.” She continued, “If it appears that a family needs more intensive assistance, I will refer the family to our Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visiting program.”
Families enrolled in the PAT program receive two in-home visits per month, designed to meet their specific needs, from birth through entry into kindergarten. “At each visit, family educators bring activities and books to share with parents; we assess children annually to identify areas of concern, and promote positive parenting in every visit,” explained Berta Andrade, Director of Ready for School Programs. In 2018, Imprints Cares made more than 2,700 home visits and delivered nearly 4,000 books to children. According to PAT standards, 91% of Imprints Cares children are ready for kindergarten.
Brain building is not complete when a child reaches school. Families still need support to ensure that their children do not fall behind in school. Imprints Cares offers high-quality before- and-after-school programming to 1,500 children onsite at 20 schools in the WS/FCS. We also provide before- and-after school care for children with special needs at our downtown location.
Betty West, Director of Imprints Cares Expanded Learning Programs, noted, “Our programs are unique because teachers and school staff comprise 70% of our team. Our parents know and trust the staff who continue the school day with health and fitness activities, dedicated homework time and mentoring.” In January, Imprints Cares began offering a hot supper to students at our 9 Title 1 Schools. 300 students per night are taking advantage of this opportunity. Thanks to faithful donors, scholarship funds are in place to help families take advantage of these opportunities.
Make plans to join us on Saturday, June 1st, for Let’s Get Quizzical, a trivia night fundraiser to benefit Imprints Cares educational programs. Build a team and vie for the Trivia Master Cup while supporting a good cause! For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit our website at imprintscares.org, or contact Shannon Heck at firstname.lastname@example.org.