A coalition of organizations have developed a strategic corridor for families who need to reach out for assistance in both Cambria and Somerset Counties. This collaborative group, spear-headed by the United Way of the Laurel Highlands, has built an efficient resource for navigating the cumbersome net of providers and services that exists in our region aimed at the development of children, as well as the family unit.
This resource, aptly name the Early Learning Pathway (ELP), affords families the opportunity to access resources that are specific to the development of their child (or children), while also following a linear path of providers and services. Essentially, the ELP keeps the family and their child (or children) within the confines of receiving structured, targetted assistance from one program, to the next.
2 goals of the Early Learning Pathway are:
- To have families, and their children, who are enrolled in Early Child Development programs remain within predetermined programs along the Pathway. Ideally, the family, upon completion (or graduation) of the program, would then be referred into the next program shown on the ELP, essentially creating a "warm handoff" between service providers. The objective of this goal is to keep families, and their children, enrolled within programs that increase the overall quality of the family unit in which the child (or children) is developing.
- To improve the overall chance that a child (age prebirth-5) will be afforded the right to develop and grow in an environment that is nurturing and supportive of their overall social, emotional, academic development.
Initial school districts where the ELP saw success were Greater Johnstown and Central Cambria. In the last year, both Blacklick Valley, Northern Cambria, and Conemaugh Valley have implemented the ELP model in an effort to assist families, and provide essential pre-preparation for their future students.