April 29, 2016

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Local organizations want to get word out about what they do

Representatives from three local organizations aimed at helping children by working with parents introduced their programs in hopes of networking with like-minded groups during the Excel by 5 quarterly meeting Monday.

Excel by 5 works to improve early childhood education for children birth to 5 years old, a time when a child’s brain is most capable of absorbing information. To do that, it often takes several organizations working together. Some are well known, while others work quietly in the background to help improve the lives of our areas’ youngest residents.

Monique Findley from the Early Years Network which operates out of the Family Resource Center on Jackson Avenue; Meg Hayden from the Exchange Club Family Center’s To Love a Child program and Wanda Woods from Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi sat on a panel before the Excel by 5 organization to showcase what their respective pro- grams did in and for the community.

Early Years Network has 16 resource and referral centers located across the state and is run by the Mississippi State Extension Service through the Mississippi Department of Human Services. They provide parenting education to teens and adults as well as early child care providers.

“Our curriculum is research based and can accommodate different ethnic backgrounds,” Findley said of her program.

The To Love a Child program works with pregnant teen mothers in Oxford and Lafayette County. Hayden, who is also the school nurse at Oxford High School, said she has two pregnant students in the program currently.

“Our main goal is to keep them in school,” she said.

A challenge is being about to involve the teen fathers more and being able to follow up with the students once the child is born, she said.

“I started working with Monique and the Early Years Network by referring them to her after the baby is born,” she said. “That’s been a big help in following up with them.”

The Family Crisis Services serves the community in several ways by working with victims of violent crimes to working with parents who have been ordered by the courts to attend parenting classes.

“We are often addressing abuse or neglect cases,” Woods said. “I have to form a bond of trust with the parent so that we can work on the issues that brought them there. We try to address those needs that cause the frustration, whether it’s needing a job or food for the family.”

All three women said getting the word out about their organizations and the programs they offer is what they hope to achieve by being part of the Excel by 5 networks.

“Everything we offer is free,” Findley said. “And so few people know about what we do. It takes all of us working together, thinking outside of the box to help our families.”