By Crystal Thompson
April 1 through 7 marked the Week of the Young Child and Havre participated in the celebration with a number of activities.
The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the week is to focus community attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and service that meet those needs.
Through the Community Education program, Havre area 4th- through 8th-graders were offered a three-day smart babysitting clinic for $10. The event was sponsored by the Havre Public Schools, HRDC District IV Child Care Link and the Havre Fire Department.
The Smart Sitter Babysitter Clinic was formed in 1993, Community Educator Judy Handstede said. This year 36 students participated in the clinic, which included activities ranging from the business basics of babysitting to games, responsibilities and first aid.
Marit Ita, early childhood specialist at District IV HRDC Child Care Link, led the babysitters in a workshop titled "Why Kids Play Games." Ita, who has advanced training in early childhood brain development, explained developmental stages of children, as well as what expectations a babysitter should have. Ita explained that physical safety and security is important, but that young children also need friendship, companionship, understanding and patience in a babysitter. She explained the importance of being a good role model and how to build trust and confidence.
Lori Evans, director of Child Care Link, focused her workshop on the business aspect of becoming a babysitter. She showed the kids how to make eye-catching signs to advertise their business, how to be a mature and responsible worker and how to handle expenses.
Many Havre residents are unaware of the many childcare resources available in the area. The Hill County Family Support Coalition is a community-wide group that encompasses several businesses, individuals and organizations who work to impress the importance of early childhood years to members of the community. A report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recently said that given the explosion in scientific knowledge about development from birth to age 5, the time has come for the nation to thoroughly re-examine policies that affect young children and bolster its investments in their well-being.
Local services are available to aid anyone who works with young children. Parents, teachers, daycare providers and babysitters have numerous resources available to them in this area. Child Care Link hosts workshops and trainings on a regular basis for providers, parents and those interested in learning more about child care and development. On April 26, a speech and language development workshop will be held at HRDC. The workshop will focus on the speech and language development of infants and toddlers. It also will incorporate storytelling and children's literature. Events like the babysitting clinic and local activities sponsored by the Family Support Coalition in conjunction with national "Stand for Children Day" encourage the community to utilize Havre's family and child resources.
Families with children who have special needs may not realize the number of pertinent resources available in this area. Quality Life Concepts of Havre recently received a grant from the Rural Institute on Disabilities to help increase public awareness of services available to children with disabilities or who are "at risk" of disabilities or delays.
The purpose of the two-year grant is to help address public awareness and more comprehensive child find efforts in and around Hill County. HillCo Child Find is the systematic process of identifying infants and children who are eligible for enrollment in intervention programs, tracking those children and making them known to appropriate service providers. Their mission statement is simple: "... to increase public awareness of our services and referrals to enhance opportunities for children birth to three and their families." For more information, contact Vicki at QLC.
A number of events for families with young children are available in the area and are worth checking out:
"Tot Time" is a play group for children ages birth to 5 that takes place at Head Start every Friday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. It gives kids and parents a chance to socialize and interact. Call Suzanne at 265-3068 for more information.
The Havre/Hill County Library offers story hour for children, as well as varying activities held every Thursday at Oakwood Village, Apt. D-2.
Busy Mom's Cooking Club is held on the second Tuesday in March through July, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Spring topics include Food and Fitness, Fun Egg Ideas and Super Summer Salads. For more information, contact Susan at 265-5481, ext. 233.
The Havre chapter of the NAEYC meets at the Head Start Parent Center on the last Monday of every month. For more information, contact Betty Hofeldt or Kathy Peterson at 265-6794.
The Child Care Link will be offering a Child Care Provider orientation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 18. The registration deadline is April 17. Cost is $15.
Preschool screening and kindergarten registration will be held at Lincoln- McKinley Elementary on Monday, April 30, and at Highland Park Elementary on Tuesday, May 1. Call 265-4356, ext. 336 for an appointment.
Infant screening (birth through 2 years) will take place on Wednesday, May 2, at the Messiah Lutheran Church. For an appointment, call 265-4356, ext. 336.
Information on activities and resources are available to fit every family's needs. To learn more about what area organizations have to offer your young child, keep these numbers in mind:
Northern Montana Head Start 265-6794;
Rocky Boy Head Start 395-4690;
Fort Belknap Head Start 353-2827;
Quality Life Concepts 265-2620;
District IV HRDC (Child Care Link/Family Based Services) 265-6743;
Hill County Health Department/WIC 265-5481;
Havre Public Schools Administration 265-4356;
Havre/Hill County Library 265-2123.