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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Healthy Steps helps Joseph City preschooler find help to be successful in school

​​Around the time that Sherri McCollan’s daughter Carmen turned 4 years old, she began to notice some changes in her daughter’s personality. McCollan was living with extended family and noticed that when the home was especially hectic with a lot of things happening at once, Carmen would be unable to cope with the situation and would often break down screaming or crying. She became concerned that her daughter may be experiencing a developmental delay.

Luckily, McCollan knew where to turn for help. At the recommendation of Carmen’s pediatrician, McCollan had enrolled Carmen as a newborn in the Healthy Steps for Young Children program. Healthy Steps, which is funded by First Things First, customizes services to meet individual family needs and goals, including: enhanced well-child care, home visits, informational material, parent groups and links to community resources. For years, McCollan, who lives in Joseph City, had sought advice from North Country Healthy Steps Program Manager Deborah Lewis, who gave her strategies for keeping Carmen focused and engaged at home, and ways to focus on Carmen without making her three other children feel neglected.

Lewis shared examples of what McCollan should expect to see developmentally as her daughter progressed. “Deborah always listened to me about issues we were having at home,” McCollan said. “Carmen has always been very talkative so Deborah suggested we play ‘20 Questions’ at home as a way to introduce new words, she loved it.” Lewis gave the mother developmentally appropriate activities to try at home, such as stringing beads, scavenger hunts and having tea parties. Lewis also helped secure a referral for Carmen to the Arizona Early Intervention Program.

Just before entering kindergarten, Carmen was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. With the help of the Healthy Steps team, Carmen was able to get additional support to prepare her for entering kindergarten on track and ready to succeed. Today, Carmen is in first grade and doing well in school. “Deborah at Healthy Steps always explained where Carmen should be developmentally,” McCollan said. “She played a big role in helping Carmen be ready for school.”

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