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Early childhood services in Rochester get $1.5 million boost

Jan 17, 2020

Rep. Joe Morelle
Credit James Brown / WXXI

A federal grant aimed at helping Rochester’s children is coming to the region. 

Congressman Joe Morelle said Friday that the $1.5 million grant will help a local initiative called Grow Rochester, which focuses on children’s health issues.

 

The initiative currently offers screenings for 3-year-olds, and it plans to use this grant along with state, local, and private fundraising to expand their reach to children between the ages of 1 and 5. 

Morelle said the goal is to alert parents to medical, social/emotional and cognitive problems before they hamper a child’s development.

“Services like health screenings and early education, access to nutritional programs that address children in a holistic way, or as we often say, a 360-degree view of a child,” said Morelle. “This is so vitally important, particularly for those children who are vulnerable, and the services they receive at a young age are critical to their long-term development and growth.” 

Anne Marie White heads the Children’s Institute and Grow Rochester. She said early intervention can catch problems that can linger for a lifetime. 

“By age 2, we know that on average, young people will be about half their adult height,” said White. “This is unparalleled growth, and as that’s occurring, so many developmental tasks are needed to foster that growth.”

The Grow Rochester initiative performed about 1,400 screenings last year and found that one in five of the kids needed glasses, one in nine needed dental work and a quarter had development issues. 

They connect with children through day care centers for now, but Grow Rochester intends to start a mobile service this spring to bring these services into neighborhoods throughout the 13-county region. They hope to reach 20,000 children in the next few years.

The funds come from a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.