It’s the Week of the Young Child! We’re celebrating early learning, young children, teachers and Idaho families!

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Contributed by: Ashtin Glōdt, Program Specialist, Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). From April 16 to 21, Idahoans will be celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families.

Locally, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) leads the celebration efforts with community events across the state. This year the Idaho AEYC will be holding a FREE family-friendly outdoor celebration at the Boise Botanical Gardens on Saturday, April 21st. Visit idahoaeyc.org for more information about community events and how to get involved in the Idaho AEYC.

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The Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to improving the health and safety of Idaho’s most precious resource: it’s children. Many department programs are designed to help families in crisis and to give a hand to vulnerable children and adults who cannot solve their problems alone. Here are a few programs that we’d like to highlight:

The Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program and its local programs were able to substantially expand home visiting services provided to pregnant women, new mothers, and their families in 2017. Nurses and developmental specialists provide training and resources within the families’ homes that promote reproductive health, positive parenting practices, family economic   self-sufficiency, and school readiness. In 2017, the MIECHV program served 628 households, 927 adults, and 704 children.

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During 2017, 2,714 children spent 549,818 days in foster care. The Resource Peer Mentor Program and the Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) program aid young children by recruiting, training, and retaining resource families who can provide care to abused or neglected children, sibling groups, and adolescents. These programs also provide special training to resource families who care for children with emotional, behavioral, and/or special needs

The Idaho Infant Toddler Program (ITP) coordinates early intervention services for children with developmental delays or disabilities from birth to 3 years of age. ITP partners with public agencies and private contractors and works closely with parents to enhance each child’s developmental potential. During 2017, the program served 3,863 children and their families.

The Children’s Developmental Disabilities Program oversees traditional and family directed services for children with developmental disabilities. The program continues to grow, with enrollment increasing to more than 3,400 children. A parent satisfaction survey in 2017 indicated that 88 percent of parents and guardians are satisfied with the services their children are receiving from the Children’s Developmental Disabilities Program.

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The Newborn Screening Program works with hospitals, birthing centers, and other healthcare providers to ensure that all babies born in Idaho are screened for 47 harmful or potentially fatal conditions. Newborn screening provides an opportunity for diagnosis and treatment through early detection. Timely treatment allows for normal growth and development and a reduction in infant morbidity and mortality.

WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) offers nutrition education, nutritional assessment, and vouchers for healthy foods to low-income families to promote optimal growth and development. In 2016, the program served 16,569 children ages 2 to 5 years. Through WIC nutritional counseling, 267 children (42%) improved their weight status by at least 1 percentile on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s BMI for Age Chart at their next WIC visit.

Visit www.naeyc.org/woyc for inspiration on how to celebrate this week with the children in your life.

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