The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 02, 2021 1:00 am

Agencies assisting in community development

Greta McKinney

Reaching developmental milestones is crucial in every life and affects the community long term. That is why it is so vital the community assist in helping those at risk.

Across Allen County, human service agencies partner with organizations and families to help Fort Wayne become a healthy place to grow and live. The work of human service agencies is imperative.

In Allen County, one in five children younger than 18 lives in poverty.

The effects of poverty can be seen as early as infancy with developmental delays. For infants and toddlers to reach vital developmental milestones, agencies such as WIC, Brightpoint, SCAN and others provide the services families need.

Nutrition and parenting-skills classes are available to aid in allowing babies and children to reach their full potential. When resources are inadequate, the Fort Wayne community as a whole is able to fill in the gaps using the many programs available.

Once a child reaches preschool and elementary school, there is a concentrated focus on reading skills. IREAD 3 results show that nearly one in every five Hoosier third grade students (18.8%) did not achieve reading proficiency. Families utilize the services and expertise of early-childhood educators such as MLK Montessori School, Early Childhood Alliance, Turnstone, Lutheran Social Service's Children's Village and many more to begin early literacy education in preschool.

When it comes to literacy, every family needs the resources and support of the community to ensure success that lasts a lifetime. Without adequate reading skills, it is impossible for a child to grow into a thriving adult.

As young students reach adolescence, important milestones include activities such as sports, the arts and academics. Most assume these activities are delegated only to the classroom; however, human service agencies are able to provide opportunities beyond the schools.

Young people can participate in youth sports and arts that connect them to mentors and friends with organizations such as Crossroads, YMCA, Cornerstone Youth Center volunteers. These and other agencies are also available to assist with activities and tutoring after school and throughout the year.

Students also learn important job skills through community agencies that provide experiences and skills that are real-world relevant. By 2027, 70% of all jobs will require some education beyond high school. Without these agencies, students may lack crucial tools as they grow to adulthood.

According to the Department of Labor Statistics, workers 25 and older who have less education than a high school diploma had the highest unemployment rate (5.4%) and lowest median weekly earnings in 2019. The goal of agencies is to partner to bring about bright futures through meaningful experiences that aid in reaching important milestones.

The importance of human service agencies partnering with families to reach all important developmental milestones cannot be overstated. When families' resources leave opportunities out of reach for infants and children, agencies step in to fill the gap.  Healthy communities are built from healthy individuals; human service agencies make this possible.

As we take time to give thanks for our families and communities, let us give thanks as well to the many agencies that make our community great. You can help by volunteering your time and often by donating.

Contact your local agencies to make a difference today.

Greta Mc_Kinney is the executive director of MLK Montessori School and a board member of Alliance for Human Services. 

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