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Childhood Coalition now officially 'Alliance 4 Youth'

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Two separate groups focused on make life better for young children have teamed up.

The Henry County Early Learning Coalition and the Henry County Systems of Care joined forces earlier this fall. The merger came with a long name that didn’t roll off the tongue.

Members of the newly formed Henry County Early Learning Systems of Care Coalition decided in November to officially change the organization’s name to “Alliance 4 Youth.”

Alliance 4 Youth’s vision statement is “to support early childhood by enriching, empowering and education our community through a system of care.”

That system begins with prenatal care and follows the child to kindergarten and beyond.

Since Thanksgiving, Alliance members learned about the Nurse-Family Partnership, the new preschool program at Parker Elementary School and started work on bring a Boys & Girls Club after school group to the area.

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is designed to help low-income women who are pregnant with their first child. NFP nurses try to help the expectant moms engage in preventative health practices, like eating healthy and quitting smoking.

According to the NFP website, the agency also tries to improve child health and development by helping parents provide “responsible competent care.” Another goal is to help families become self-sufficient by teaching budgeting skills and encouraging job searches.

For more information, visit www.nursefamilypartnership.org.

The Parker preschool program is the first within the New Castle public school system. The preschool program is currently going through the steps to join Indiana’s Paths to QUALITY program.

Preschool classes at Parker starts Feb. 4 and will have slots for 15 kids.

The New Castle community is currently helping the city’s school district develop a map for the future. One of the recommendations is that there be a preschool program in each of the neighborhood elementary schools.

Alliance 4 Youth co-facilitator Liane Nickey said starting the pilot preschool class at Parker is part of the staging process to get Henry County ready for “On My Way Pre-K.”

“On My Way Pre-K” is a grant initiative through the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration helping low-income families pay for high-quality pre-K programs the year before their children begin kindergarten.

Alliance co-facilitator Amanda Bowman has been talking to different groups about starting a Boys & Girls Club after school program in New Castle.

Bowman said a local program would fall under the umbrella of the Richmond chapter.

A Boys & Girls Club would need a dedicated location and a way to get kids there. Bowman said the community needs to raise $150,000 to fund the first three years of a BGC to get it started.

For more information on Alliance 4 Youth, contact Amanda Bowman at 521-2450 or Liane Nickey at 765-284-0887.