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JPS Partners with Strong Starts Chautauqua To Receive Support from the Blue Fund

Jamestown Public Schools is one of the recipients of a $240,000 grant that the Strong Starts Chautauqua Initiative received from the Blue Fund of Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York. The grant is in support of the initiative’s work in fostering children’s health, well being, developmental skills, and school readiness. Strong Starts Chautauqua is a countywide network of organizations and partners dedicated to building bright futures for Chautauqua County children and families, prenatally through child age five.

Blue Fund support will enable Strong Starts Chautauqua, which has just completed its two-year pilot phase, to move into broader implementation throughout the county. Specifically, funds will be used to:

  • Educate the community about the importance of children’s early life experiences;
  • Promote prenatal care and well-child visit attendance;
  • Improve parents’ and caregivers’ access to resources and services to help their children and families thrive;
  • Promote universal child developmental screening and identify opportunities to help children reach their full potential;
  • Advance maternal/caregiver screening and provide support to address mental health needs.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to partner with many agencies across Chautauqua County on this project,” said Jill Muntz, JPS Nursing Coordinator. “We see the difficulties that children face in the classroom and want to support them as much as possible in order to promote their success in school and into adulthood. We understand the importance of universal screening and early intervention in order to identify and support children at risk. We are hopeful the funds will go towards the resources needed to address the unique needs of these children in our county.”

Jamestown Public Schools was a founding member of Strong Starts Chautauqua and continues to play a lead role in creating protocols for developmental screening of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students that will be replicated in other Chautauqua County school districts. District personnel contribute to development of collaborative action plans to address emerging challenges of families with young children, create smoother transitions from early intervention to special education services, and develop ongoing partnerships with medical, human service, mental health, government, and community-based organizations to create more seamless pathways for the county’s children to have the strongest start in life possible.

“It has been an exciting and challenging journey, working with the local team and Dr Chasnoff, as the vision for Strong Starts has become a reality in Chautauqua County,” said Laura Vincent-Inman, JPS Pre-K school psychologist. “An important and rewarding step forward is the use of the ASQ screener, which is a developmental screening tool, with our early education students at JPS this school year. This will result in a more global screening as well as consistency between schools and medical professionals throughout the county, allowing for more positive outcomes for children and families.”

Strong Starts Chautauqua uses evidence-based practices to empower families and care providers so they can give children the best possible start in life. Strong Starts Chautauqua supports all of the county’s young children and their families through community education and outreach, information and referral, maternal and early childhood risk screening, and connection to resources that help young children thrive. For more information on Strong Starts Chautauqua visit www.strongstartschaut.com.