SAL Community Services has been awarded nearly $1.2 million from the Illinois State Board of Education for its Prevention Initiative program.

The three-year grant will go into effect January 1 and will bring programming to 112 children and families in SAL’s birth-to-three classrooms at its child care centers in Illinois and licensed home care settings. SAL’s Prevention Initiative program provides services and resources to expectant parents and families with children up to three years old to support healthy social and emotional development.

“The opportunity to support children both in our centers and in homes is a unique aspect of this program, helping us reach more families who could benefit,” SAL’s chief program officer Deb Brownson said. “It really sets the stage for all the other relationships a child will have as they enter preschool.” According to Brownson, healthy development between birth and age three lays the foundation for a child to succeed at future learning.

“With a focus not only on children but also on parents, this grant resonates with our mission of providing support, advocacy, and learning in our community—from childhood to adulthood,” SAL’s president and CEO Marcy Mendenhall said. “This funding will deepen the programming we already offer and step up our ability to provide services and resources focused on these crucial formative years.”

According to a release, the funding will enable SAL to help parents of children with developmental delays navigate the school system and outside resources to support the entire family. SAL can assist in accessing a wide range of resources, from transportation and attending doctors’ appointments to health insurance and helping to cover costs.

To qualify for services, children and families must meet a threshold of need. Factors that may put children at risk for future challenges can include poverty, illiteracy, unemployment or limited English proficiency. Children with recognized delays in early development, or those born prematurely or at a very low birth weight, may also be eligible for services.

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