The Walters Family Foundation awarded the Kalamazoo RESA Seeds for Success home visiting program a $150,000 grant to create play spaces in underserved neighborhoods. The funds provided materials for three new spaces: in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood at Interfaith Homes, at the Artbor and at Bethany House. The new rooms include toys, furniture, books and materials meant to welcome families.
“These spaces help connect families with resources and other community agencies,” said Jennifer Sova, administrator of KRESA’s Early Childhood Special Education programs. “Our goals include increasing parents’ knowledge of early childhood development, improving parenting practices, detecting developmental delays and health issues, and increasing children’s school readiness.”
The idea is to bring early education support directly to families that need it.
So far, the three spaces have been used for community playgroups, developmental screenings and prekindergarten enrollment events. The new space at Interfaith Homes, 1037 Interfaith Blvd., hosts a free playgroup for residents on Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. The Artbor, 118 E. Paterson, welcomes families living in the 49007 zip code to their playgroup on Wednesdays from 12-1 p.m. The room at Bethany House is available daily to its residents as a safe space for events, family-friendly visits and meetings.
“When we meet families where they are, we eliminate potential barriers, such as transportation,” Sova said. “We want them to know we’re here to help.”
Seeds for Success is one program in KRESA’s suite of early childhood education programs, which also includes the Preprimary Evaluation Team (PET) and Early On. Seeds for Success is a consortium of four agencies providing in-home services to families of young children across Kalamazoo County. Services take an approach based on the Strengthening Families Program and include developmental screenings, parent education, referrals to resource connections and community playgroups for children 0-3. The program offers free home visits to all pregnant moms and families with children ages 0-5 in Kalamazoo County.
For more information on Seeds for Success or KRESA early childhood programming, including free playgroups, screenings and home visits, go to www.kresa.org.