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Area Organizations Shape Quality of Life Study

May 12, 2010

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In earlier reports on the quality of life study for children aged zero to five, we met four-year old Amarie and her grandmother Vicki Calhoun. With Amarie's mother incarcerated, Vicki became the mother to a young child once again, as 'Mari moved in with her last year.

It's been a loving adjustment for the small family. Vicki had not anticipated raising her granddaughter, and Amarie had to deal with the lack of stability in her family before finally moving in with her grandma. It was another demand, albeit a pleasant one, for Calhoun, who was already quite busy in her own right. Already working full time, she is going to class at MCC that she believes will help her in social work.

It's situations like Vicky's and Amarie's that are targeted for help by the Greater Waco Education Alliance, the Waco Foundation, and the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition, who they hired for the report. Amarie has experienced family trauma and uncertainty at a time when she's headed into school, her brain is developing, and her natural curiousity needs to be nurtured. At age 4, she's at the old end of the quality of life study. But she and other students in her East Waco neighborhood, a zip code targeted for major improvements by the report, need to be introduced to programs that will help them as they begin educational life. Vicky and Amarie's situation is one that is unique, but not uncommon in Waco.

Ashley Allison, director of the Waco Foundation, gives that example of how the Quality of Life Report gave tangible numbers to issues that were previously anecdotes or assumptions. They did that by interviewing workers at places like the Family Health Clinic, Avance Waco, and the Grandparents As Parents Program at the Methodist Children's Home. This is the program that is utilized by Vicky and Amarie. Rehan McNeil, director of the program, said that with her involvement in the report, she was able to give voice to a group of people who need direction when it comes to getting re-acclimated to the school system.

Ashley Allison, director of the Waco Foundation, gives that example of how the Quality of Life Report gave tangible numbers to issues that were previously anecdotes or assumptions. They did that by interviewing workers at places like the Family Health Clinic, Avance Waco, and the Grandparents As Parents Program at the Methodist Children's Home. This is the program that is utilized by Vicky and Amarie. Rehan McNeil, director of the program, said that with her involvement in the report, she was able to give voice to a group of people who need direction when it comes to getting re-acclimated to the school system.

Rehan McNeil knows Vicky Calhoun and Amarie well, saying they're great examples of a grandparent and child making use of the service. Says Vicky, it's a blessing to have a place to go with questions.

We'll continue our look at Vicky and Amarie tomorrow, their relationship with Grandparents as Parents program, and how programs like theirs will shape community direction. You can see all of our prior stories, as well as the study itself at www.kwbu.org/childstudy. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.



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