Editor’s note: February is Early Intervention Awareness Month and each week for the month, Pictou County Early Intervention will be submitting a column about their work.
Pictou County Early Intervention Association was incorporated in 1996 consisting of a board of directors, spearheaded by Dr Peggy Bethune who was the first chairperson. The program officially opened their doors in September 1997 funded by the Department of Community Service with one employee, the program co-ordinator, who began creating the program and providing early intervention services to families in Pictou County.
Our mission is to develop, administer and deliver an early intervention program that focuses on providing support, information and education to families with children who have or are at risk of developmental delay.
In the past 16 years the program has grown. We now have four hired staff members: an executive director, a full-time and a part-time early interventionist and a part-time administrative assistant. Presently we provide free service to 36 families, have 21 families on a waitlist and have 12 referrals. We have supported some children from birth and continue to support all in our program as long as needed until we assist with their transition to school.
Pictou County Early Intervention is a non-profit charitable corporation governed by a board of directors. At this time we have 14 members, hoping to add four more members for a bylaw maximum of 18. We are all volunteers representing community members, parents of children with special needs, health and education professionals. We adhere to The Standards and Guidelines Manual for Early Intervention Home Based Programs, Dept. of Community Services. We follow policies and procedures developed by Early Intervention Nova Scotia as well as policies we have developed, reviewing as needed, for our own program.
The board, which meets one evening a month September to June, elects executive officers and establishes working committees who meet on regularly to address the program needs: admissions and reviews, finances, policy and personnel, fundraising, public relations and occupational health and safety.
We provide required documentation to Community Services: to renew grants, report on program, services, accounting and financial records. We plan and participate in public education activities.
The board is responsible for adequate financing through a commitment to fundraising and sound financial planning. This is by far the responsibility that takes most of our time and energies. Presently our annual budget is around $140,000. Government funding, now through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, is just over $100,000. This leaves us with the daunting task of raising nearly $40,000 annually.
We have been very lucky to have received United Way Grants for many years. Other needed funds come from community fundraising activities as well as donations from business, community organizations, schools, families and individuals.
Our first province-wide Early Intervention Month was declared in February 2000 with a proclamation signed by premier John Hamm. This year we will continue with February activities to increase community awareness of our program and the needs we strive to meet in Pictou County. We will also be doing several fundraising activities as we hope to reach our goal of $40,000 by March 31. We are right now still $14,000 away from this goal. These funds are needed to just maintain the program we now offer to 11 families. If we do not reach our goal some or all these families will lose the service they have as of April 1.
Our vision is to ensure that early intervention services are received by all who are at risk, including those not yet identified. This will be done by improving education and community awareness and securing professional and financial support through local, provincial and national partnerships.
Pictou County, we need your help to realize our vision, to be able to provide services to all who need it without any waiting period (now sometimes a year or more). We are counting on our provincial government to follow through with Premier Stephen McNeil’s promise of increased funding – an announcement he made from our office in September. This increased funding would mean there would be no waiting lists so all who qualify would receive our support.
Please help support Pictou County Early Intervention any way you can:
– Volunteer to be a board director
– Share your knowledge of our program with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues
– Make a financial donation
– Encourage business and community organizations to make financial donations
– Organize fundraising activities on our behalf
– Support our community fundraisers as a volunteer and/or participant
– Lobby our government to provide adequate funding
– Call us for further information at 752-1016.
Submitted by Jean Nicol, Board Chairperson, Pictou County Early Intervention