What services are actually available at Blanchard Valley Center? When Findlay Area Family recently sat down with Connie Ament, superintendent at BVC we found that this is a big question in the community. BVC personnel have even identified about 1,000 students enrolled in Hancock County’s city and county schools who are following an Individual Education Plan (IEP) but have not used their services.
The Center offers a wide range of assistance: early intervention, a home based specialist, a school and community resource specialist, Blanchard Valley School (preschool through high school), employment and volunteer experiences for adults, vocational and day services with van transportation for adults, respite care, case management and therapy.
Let’s make sure that you and your child are not missing out! Here’s a closer look at BVC services and their effect on four local families:
1: Early Intervention Specialist
Research continues to prove the importance of early intervention in children with developmental delays. The services provided through early intervention programs, such as Help Me Grow, can lead to positive outcomes such as improved language and communication, cognitive development and social development. Local experts encourage parents to contact Help Me Grow for an evaluation if they have any concerns. Services are provided for free to eligible children under the age of 3.
Logan Phillips and her family have had a great experience with their Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) through Blanchard Valley Center, Keely Wymer. Logan was born with Down Syndrome and is now 20 months old. Keely coordinates Logan’s care by coordinating and scheduling speech therapy, physical therapy and anything else she may need. According to Brittany, Logan’s mother, “The therapists perform different exercises with Logan while teaching us how to do them on our own. They provide our family with different tools and equipment that are useful in Logan’s therapy. It’s wonderful to have people who are trained and have experience working with our daughter. The fact that the therapists come to your home when you can’t get out means a lot. It’s a huge support system for us. They go above and beyond to help us.”
To schedule an evaluation for your child under 3 years of age, contact Help Me Grow at
419-423-8687 or go to www.ffchelpmegrow.org
2: School & Community Resource Specialist
Through the School and Community Resource Service at Blanchard Valley Center, students are assisted in their transition from school into adulthood. This includes helping young adults to develop their talents and skills and connecting them with volunteer and employment opportunities in the community that interest them. Milton Deal, son of Cindy and James Deal, has thrived under the care of his School and Community Resource Specialist, Melanie Williams. Milton came from El Salvador to the U.S. when he was just 23 months old. He has a rare genetic condition named after him in which chromosomes #2 and #15 are switched. Milton started with Blanchard Valley Schools at age 3 and is now 19 years old. He works for the community at The Salvation Army, loves music, softball, basketball and bowling.
When asked what Melanie does for the family, Cindy emphasizes her importance in Milton’s life; “We wouldn’t be where we are today without Melanie Williams. She has helped us advocate for services, get Milton’s green card, his social security card and she has overall been our right-hand man. She goes to IEP meetings, she requested community service for Milton and even got him a job. She has known him since he was three and she has always stepped in on his behalf. Milton has grown up with Melanie and the sky is the limit for him.”
For more information contact Melanie Williams, School & Community Resource Specialist, at 419-422-6387, ext. 1024
3: Family & Home Based Specialist
For children and individuals who have outgrown eligibility for the Early Intervention Program, a Home Based Specialist can provide services for a family member with special needs. The goal is to improve the quality of life for the family and individual through skill development, behavior management, training and more, depending on the individual needs. Cory St. Myers is the Home Based Specialist who works with siblings Christian (16), Emily (14), and Joshua (3), children of Christy and Robert Rushing. Christian and Emily were both diagnosed with autism at an early age and Joshua has developmental delays due to microdeletion syndrome.
During their time together, Cory focuses on teaching communication skills, coping skills and strategies, promoting independence and giving children responsibilities. He uses a variety of teaching strategies including role play, picture schedules and token systems. When asked how the services have impacted their family, Christy shares, “Cory has really brought a lot to our family. We are not as frazzled and the kids have less meltdowns, which is such a blessing. Our situation has improved a lot since we began working with Cory. I don’t think I could manage without his services.”
For more information, contact Blanchard Valley Center at 419-422-6387
4: Day of Respite
Once a month, Blanchard Valley Center provides a Day of Respite for those served by the Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities and their siblings. The staff at BVC provides free specialized care to children ages 3-15, giving parents a couple of hours to themselves. Christina and John Treece have six children and their two youngest, Gatlin (6) and Draiman (5) both have autism. The boys have made amazing progress at Blanchard Valley Schools and Christina describes why the Day of Respite is so helpful to families: “We as parents enjoy getting a short break to do errands or other things that are easier done without the kids. Most special needs parents, myself included, struggle finding a suitable sitter to accommodate their child’s special needs so it is really great that BVC offers this program. My boys also really enjoy the playtime with other kids.”
For those who wonder what exactly their children would do during this time, Christina points out, “They have several games and activities set up in the school gym for the kids. They even go outside and play on the playground. It’s great for the kids to play with peers. They also get to do a lot of physical activity, which is good for sensory needs and helps kids be able to calm and focus better later.”
Upcoming Days of Respite: Nov. 21 and Dec. 19th from 10am-noon.
For more information or to register, contact Cory at 419-422-8173.