At the United Way of Pickaway County, we believe education holds the key to opportunity for the county families we support.
From Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YMCA to PICCA Head Start and countless others, the UWPC prides itself in helping people do good things for kids. Today we examine the behavioral support services your donations help support at PICCA Head Start.
Annually, the PICCA Head Start preschool provides academic enrichment and kindergarten readiness programming for families in Circleville and Ashville. Of the 236 students enrolled last year, 78% came from families that fell below the poverty line. PICCA’s dedicated staff of early childhood specialists works with daily to develop school readiness routines and map out an individualized path to kindergarten for every student.
Of the 19 staff members affiliated with the school, the United Way of Pickaway County and its supporters provide funding for the services of one individual contracted through the Pickaway County Educational Service Center whose skill set and knowledge are invaluable in creating that kindergarten readiness plan in the form of county behavioral specialist Patti Webb.
Throughout the school year, Webb works with students and families to conduct behavior assessments that help guide skill development.
“Behavior assessments for young children are often focused on helping the child foster self-regulation, learn new skills and use those new skills in a variety of settings,” said Webb. “A child who has the ability to regulate their behavior is proven to be more successful socially, emotionally, and academically. Often assessments and interventions that target a “behavior need,” result in improved academic functioning as well.”
At the ages of 3-5, implementing a behavioral plan that helps students learn how to function in large groups for the first time at a scaled level specific to them. The assessments produced by Webb are then used once a student graduates on to elementary school where a kindergarten team use that information to continue services and supports that have previously been offered and improve upon them as the child grows.
To get a better idea on how Webb’s assessments, observations, and heart for helping children grow come into play at PICCA, we caught up with her for an informal Q&A.
How important are routines when it comes to seeing desired student behaviors on a consistent basis?
Predictable and consistent routines, both at home and school, are the foundations of self- regulation and social emotional development. When children know what to expect, their minds are calm and ready learn through play and social interactions.
2. In your eyes, how important are supports for students at an early age in terms of the trajectory of their academic progress?
CRITICAL!! Self- regulation, or executive functioning, grows at its fastest rate between the ages of 2 and 5. Research has established the importance of quality programming in the early years as crucial for later success in many areas: educational attainment, physical health, and other life outcomes. This is why all of our county preschool programs, as well as Early Intervention are so important for the children of Pickaway County.
3. How do the plans/assessments you and PICCA provide families foster informed decision-making in terms of their child’s future academic and social plans?
The work of the entire PICCA staff; including teachers, assistants, home visitors, therapists, nurses, bus drivers, etc. creates a partnership with families to support and prepare the children for their eventual school success. Behavior assessments that identify strengths and areas of need are one component of the support system for the child and family that ensures that when it’s time to transition to school age programming, the school districts have a full picture of the child’s abilities, and that information is useful in planning placement and supports in Kindergarten.
4. Talk about how the staff implements a child’s IEP/504 plans generally speaking and how PICCA is a partner in helping to see out a child’s every day growth on an individual level.
Staff collect growth measures for every child at several points throughout the year and use that information to determine when more formalized supports are needed, then evaluations are completed to target the area(s) of need. Students who qualify for special needs services receive specially designed instruction from licensed special education teachers and therapists and data is collected to determine growth on the goals written on the IEP/504 plan. This information is shared with parents regularly.
5. How vital are these plans for students to the elementary school they will be enrolling at once Kindergarten age to foster informed decision-making regarding their transition to the elementary school setting?
Staff in the elementary schools are able to use the information gathered in the assessment process, the IEP/504, and the progress data gathered to identify how those needs will be met in Kindergarten. This information helps lay the groundwork for welcoming the child to Kindergarten- from identifying what teachers will support the child, what related services may by necessary such as Speech, OT, or PT, and how to support behavior needs.
While the UWPC provides the funding that makes the vital work of Webb’s behavioral assessments possible, only a dedicated educator with the demeanor and love for helping others such as what she provides makes it a reality for families. This is one of our success stories as Webb touches the lives of countless children and families at PICCA each and every year.
On behalf of the United Way of Pickaway County, we are incredibly proud to partner with PICCA and Mrs. Webb and for their part in our shared mission to leave a strong footprint on early childhood education in our county.