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As the new CEO at the EPU Children’s Center, I have been navigating my way through the myriad of programs we offer, meeting the team members who serve in those programs, and introducing myself to children and families that participate across Fresno County and beyond. Last week, I took a drive out to Firebaugh with Marlene Pena, our FRC Program Manager, to visit one of our Play and Grow sites. It was a small group due to the heavy fog in this rural West Fresno county community with two Spanish-speaking mothers in attendance, along with their two daughters. Our transportation team had retrieved them from their homes earlier that morning and delivered them to the facility that EPU leases for the program. Serving the families were Ernesto, Mari, and Kris, providing targeted supportive services and physical therapy to these children with very unique and special needs. I was amazed by the care that our team took to ensure that each child was engaged in the Circle Time, and providing the services in English and Spanish. The parents met together with one of our Family Resource Center staff, Jessica, to provide support to each other as mothers with children with special needs.
I asked the two women how the EPU program had impacted them and their families. Each recounted that their daughters had joined the program at the recommendation of community partners when they were only a few months old, and that the ongoing home visitation and collaborative play/parent times had changed their lives. They shared how they had learned from our EPU team to work with their children at home, and how their children were growing. They shared their nervousness about their children aging out of the program (which transitions at 3 years old), and transitioning to another new and unfamiliar system with the local school district. And they talked, with much passion, about the hope that this program had brought when they now consider their children’s future.
I am excited about this coming year, learning more about how our 41 years of experience can expand our impact in this community and beyond. Please join me and our team in advocating for increased services for families with children with special needs, for systems change in how resources are allocated to serve these children and their families, and for stable funding as ongoing local, State and federal budgets are reviewed and allocated. If you have questions about our programs, or comments about this blog post, please contact me at email@example.com. Take care.