LCPS’s Exceptional Children’s Department opened its doors and made its therapists available to children from across the county Monday during its first ever Community Screening Day.
Held at Southeast Elementary School, the event was an outreach effort by the EC Department to identify children ages 3 to 5 who might need special instruction and to begin the process of developing specialized plans for serving them. Children were screened for cognitive and pre-academic ability, speech language communication, fine motor skills and hearing and vision.
“We want to see if there’s anyone out there that we’ve missed,” Renae Banks, an event organizer and a member of the pre-kindergarten, or Pre-K, EC staff, said.
Typically, EC therapists do monthly screenings of children referred by physicians, the Department of Social Services, Head Start and private day care centers. Community Screening Day was an invitation for parents to act as their own referral service.
“This is a way we hope to catch some of those children who are not at Head Start or not at a day care but are at home with their moms,” Banks said.
Parents of children identified with a deficit of some type are asked to return for a referral meeting, where EC specialists gather more information and “find out what the parents’ concerns are,” Banks said.
“We’ll decided as a team if we need to go further with the evaluation, with the parents’ permission, of course,” she said. “If the children are identified as needing special instruction, we look at how we need to serve them.”
LCPS offers multiple options, depending on a child’s needs. Its EC Pre-K offers two specialized classrooms for children needing intense instruction. EC therapists travel to day cares throughout the county to provide individual help for children as young as 3 years old. Therapists at the Pre-K center at Southeast work individually with children who may only need an hour or two of instruction a week.
“We find the setting that’s most appropriate and we go there to serve them,” Banks said.
The setting Monday – in Southeast’s gym – was a blend of a children’s carnival, an information expo for parents and an pediatric evaluation center. Flimsy the Clown provided entertainment and the EC Department provided its expertise. Partnership for Children of Lenoir and Greene Counties, the regional mental health provider Eastpointe and the Local Interagency Coordinating Council, an agency that works to inform parents about early intervention services, all had information booths at the event. For good measure, the EC Department served hot dogs for lunch.
Community Screening Day was conceived as an additional aspect of the EC Department’s Child Find program, in which the department actively seeks children with special needs, and is expected to become an annual event.
“We came together as a group and talked about things we could do and we thought this would be great,” Julie Hill, assistant director of the department, said.
A Facebook photo album from Community Screening Day is here.