BY: Shannon Heck, Director of Development and Marketing
Imprints Cares has served children and families in Forsyth County for more than 52 years. In fact, we are the only educational non-profit in our community that serves children from prenatal through middle school. The stories below provide just a glimpse into the daily activities at Imprints Cares.
- Sarai and her two-year-old daughter Maia, who are enrolled in our “Parents as Teachers” program, eagerly opened a monthly activity “kit” filled with books, manipulatives, diapers, and food.
- Mateo, a student who attended our tuition-free, summer enrichment camp at Ashley Academy, splashed in the water at Hanging Rock during his first- ever visit to the park.
- Jarod and Tyesha, students in our after-school program at Old Town Elementary, built bridges out of spaghetti and marshmallows that were strong enough to withstand gale force winds.
- Devon, a three-year-old preschooler, was assessed for developmental delays and referred for additional services with early intervention.
Our team builds trusting relationships with the families that we serve and relies upon evidence-based resources to equip parents to be their child’s first, best teacher. When children enter school, we provide before- and after-school programs at 27 local sites in the WS/FCS District, including seven (7) tuition-free programs for children at greatest risk for learning loss exacerbated by the pandemic. Imprints Cares also serves children with special needs at an inclusion program located at our downtown location and at the only full-day summer camp for children with special needs in Forsyth County. Betty West, director of Expanded Learning, notes, “I believe that every child should have access to the same structured, nurturing after-school and summer- enrichment opportunities, regardless of their ability to pay.” Last year, Imprints Cares provided $647,000 in scholarships for children to attend our programs.
While 2021 brought new challenges to our families, Imprints Cares pivoted to respond to the continuing health crisis in a variety of ways. Quality early learning programs like those offered by Imprints Cares are the best way to close achievement gaps before they begin. Our flagship program, Parents as Teachers, is an international, evidence-based model which connects families with an educator who provides two in-home visits per month. Family educators provide parenting tips, perform developmental assessments, and bring age-appropriate books and activities to each visit. Angela Hunt, director of Parents as Teachers, says, “Throughout the pandemic our family educators remained connected to 95% of our families through a combination of virtual meetings, telephone calls, and outdoor visits at local parks and community centers.” She continues, “We walk alongside the families that we serve and provide referrals to community agencies when needs arise.” Last year, Imprints Cares delivered more than 5,000 books and completed nearly 3,000 home visits. Children who graduate from our Parents as Teachers program score higher on kindergarten readiness assessments and are read to more frequently than their peers who do not receive our services. Unfortunately, the need for our services is far greater than our capacity; we currently have 91 families on our waiting list.
Imprints Cares also offers the Pediatric Parenting Connections (PPC), placing family educators in pediatricians’ offices to provide in-office support for young children and their parents. Maria Stockton, director of Pediatric Parenting Connections, noted, “Our family educators address common parenting issues including breastfeeding concerns, sleep problems, and developmental delays. We are also excited to pilot a Young Mom’s program with the Birth Center at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.”
The 1,500 children enrolled in our Expanded Learning programs, located onsite at local schools, enjoy recreational activities, STEM and STEAM enrichment activities, homework help daily, and literacy-based social and emotional learning opportunities. More than 70% of our after-school team are teachers and school personnel. Devon Mackay, an Expanded Learning parent, said, “Since March 2020, Imprints Cares has been an indispensable partner to our family. I don’t know what we would have done without them. Our daughter loves Imprints Cares. We have used them for e-learning, summer camp, after-school, and-out-of-school days.”
Investments in early learning and high-quality after-school programming will have lasting impact well beyond childhood and are critical to improving third-grade reading proficiency, reducing chronic absenteeism, and helping children develop critical social and emotional skills.
For more information or if you are interested in joining our team, please visit our website at https://imprintscares.org