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Cradles & Crayons hosts coffee hour,
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Valerie Marshall, director of the Parents as Teachers program for USD 495, was one of the speakers at Thursday mornings Chamber Coffee Hour, held in the Courthouse Lounge. Fifty-five to 60 people attended, including, in background, from left, Randy Morell, Courtland Holman and Matt Watkins. - photo by JERRY BUXTON Great Bend Tribune



Cradles & Crayons, an umbrella organization comprising several other groups, hosted a Chamber Coffee Hour Thursday morning in the Pawnee County Courthouse Lounge. The C&C Interagency Coordinating Council, explained by speakers and a brochure, consists of programs serving children from birth to age five and their families. Interagency Coordinating members are the Sunflower Early Education Center, the Pawnee County Health Department, USD 495 Parents as Teachers, the USD 495 school nurse, the Tri-ounty Early Education Center, Mid-Cap Kansas Head Start, Children’s Mercy Community Relations, Child Care Connections and Southwest Developmental Services.

Cradles & Crayons’s slogan, or one of them, is "A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark." Also, Dr. Seuss’s "A person’s a person no matter how small." Free screenings of children ages 0-5 are conducted four times a year, always in the basement at the United Methodist Church, 701 Main in Larned. The first one of this school year is today, in fact. Others will be Nov. 5, Feb. 4, 2011, and April 1, 2011, always on a Friday.

Areas screened include cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, language, social/emotional development, and hearing and vision. For any child identified as needing possible support in an area of development, the family will be given the option to receive further evaluation and intervention services.

Valerie Marshall, director of Parents as Teachers for the local school district, was among those who spoke at the coffee hour. She prefers the term "learning differences" to "Learning disabilities." She works with children up to the age of 3 years.

Cathy Estes, Early Education Services coordinator for the Great Bend-based Sunflower Early Education Center, said special education services are provided for Pawnee and several other counties. She said 18 children in Pawnee County were served in the past six months by this aspect of the C&C programs.

Other speakers included Holly Corman, Infant and Maternal Health specialist for the Pawnee County Health Department, and Margo Buscher, special education director for Tri-County EEC and director of Tri-County Special Services.

Head Start, a long-existing program for 3- to 5-year-olds, also was discussed. Many in the crowd said they were surprised to find so many services are available for kids 0-5 years old. As Martha Stewart used to say, "It’s a good thing."