Forty infants and toddlers are served at the Center’s main campus on Monroe Street and at our satellite site at the Patricia Hannaford Career Center. Educated staff and low adult/child ratios assure high quality care. Developmental therapists, physical, occupational and speech therapists, as well as mental health counselors offer supports to children within their natural learning environment. While open to the public, priority for enrollment is given to the children of teen parents and to children who, due to their particular developmental or social and emotional needs, may benefit from the added services available at the Center’s childcare program. The Parent/Child Center childcare has received five stars, the highest rating possible, in STARS, Vermont’s program for recognizing high quality early childhood education settings.
Home Visiting / Outreach
Skilled social workers and educators work with families in all corners of the county, bringing whatever supports and information the family needs in order for their children to thrive. The staff visitor breaks through the isolation that is so often a part of rural life to assure that children are safe and receiving the developmental opportunities that will prepare them for future school success. Referrals come from physicians, schools, social service agencies, the faith community and from families themselves. The service may range from just one or two home visits to on-going weekly visits depending on the needs and wishes of the individual family.
Weekly playgroups turn church basements or other settings into fun and challenging environments where young children can interact with their peers, parents can learn from each other and staff is available to answer questions about child development and accessing community supports. Playgroups are free for children birth to 6 years and accompanying parents.
Playgroups happen from 9:30-11:00 am on the following days:
Tuesday - Bristol; First Baptist Church
Wednesday - Vergennes; Congregational Church
Thursday - Middlebury; Congregational Church
* Playgroup schedules may vary during school break periods or may be canceled occasionally.
For more information and to confirm that a playgroup will take place, please call us at 388-3171.
The most intensive housing service offered by the Center is the Elm Street First Time Renters Program. This program was developed in response to the increase in the number of families whom we serve that are homeless. We offer not only transitional housing for up to ten young families or at-risk youth in a house located in Middlebury, but also the opportunity to learn skills that will help them be successful future tenants with community landlords. Residents participate in a weekly housing
group focused on tenant rights and responsibilities, getting along with neighbors, basic home maintenance and other pertinent topics and they are supported to practice these skills while residing in our housing. Residents stay from one to two years, depending on age at entry. In addition, we provide a variety of non-residential housing supports to homeless adolescents and families with young children.
Learning Together Program
This intensive, twenty-eight hour per week training program focuses on helping young people gain the job readiness and retention skills and other skills that will prepare them to be successful in the work place, as parents, and in life.
The program consists of six basic components:
5. Job Readiness Activities
6. Inter-personal Skills
These six components, while representing a general framework, are balanced through a schedule that is individualized for each participant. Participants spend the bulk of their hours in Learning Together at an on-the-job placement doing childcare, clerical work or food service at the Center. The focus is on learning how to get along with co-workers, how to take supervision, how to be reliable and dependable and able to avoid distractions while on the job. The remainder of program time is spent in a variety of classes, groups and private academic or counseling sessions. The program serves as an alternative education site for the four Addison County high schools, so that those who need their diploma may earn credit towards graduation during their Learning Together hours. The program also focuses on parenting skills. For the first time, many of these young people experience what it feels like to be part of a healthy family.
Because our Center began as a program to address the particular needs of adolescent parents, this population remains highest priority for us even as the scope of our work has expanded. Our experience tells us - and the young people themselves whom we have served through the years have told us – that every teen pregnancy is a premature one. For the young people doing a good job as parents, it is heart-breaking to see an adolescent setting aside her own education and her own needs to focus on those of her child. For those teens unable to meet the challenges of parenting too young, two generations suffer. Therefore, we remain committed to investing what resources we can into preventing teen pregnancies in this community.
The following are some of our teen pregnancy prevention strategies:
Free pregnancy tests to young, poor women with options counseling
On-going home visiting support to adolescents at high risk of an unwanted pregnancy. An adolescent is considered at-risk if she (or he) has had one or more negative pregnancy tests, if (s)he is the sibling or household member of a teen parent, if (s)he is engaging in risky sexual behaviors as identified by family or school officials. Referrals come from schools, physician’s offices, counselors, social service providers, family members or by self-referral.
Free condoms and counseling on safe sex Condoms and information are made available to teens both on-site at the Parent/Child Center in a place accessible confidentially and at local high schools.
Attention to the reproductive health of young parents to avoid unwanted second pregnancies. Staff continues to track when appointments are due to keep birth control in place and assists the family in follow through.
Services to young fathers and fathers-to-be. Frequently the mother and father have discontinued their relationship long before the birth of their child. The father-to-be needs information and preparation to prepare for his coming role. Fathers, who are active in their child’s life and understand the gravity of parenting, are less likely to become fathers repeatedly with different women.
Individual crisis counseling for parents of teens and parent support groups when families are interested
Workshops for parents on “Talking to your child about issues of sexuality and health”
Teen parent panels for local high school classes
Professional Support and Consultation
On-site mental health consultation is available through the Center for early childhood and Kindergarten teachers and for home childcare providers. Professional development workshops are offered occasionally at the Center or we can arrange to offer them at other sites. The Center serves as a training site for professional interns. Usually this is for Master’s level internships, most often in social work, but we would consider other fields of study on an individual basis. Program tours and/or consultations may be arranged by contacting one of the Co-Directors.