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TECEC Study Helps More Than Just Children

May 12, 2010

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The quality of life study focuses on children aged zero to five. But that doesn't mean it excludes those much older. Because for children to be ready to learn when they enter school, they have to have parents, or grandparents in some cases, who are plugged in to their needs. Vicky Calhoun is one such woman, raising her granddaughter Amarie after her mother, Vicky's daughter, was imprisoned.

The numbers of non-traditional families in Waco is high. It can be a grandparent, like Vicky, a teen-mom, or single-parent family. And they all have special demands, needs, and time constraints that can make it difficult to really understand the complex needs of their children. The school and medical system can also present a maze-like list of challenges to those not already familiar with them. That's where organizations like Grandparents as Parents at the Methodist Children's Home. Directed by Rehan McNeil, Grandparents as Parents works with Vicky to answer questions, and steer grandma in the right direction to make good decisions for granddaughter.

Rehan McNeil serves as a conduit between grandparents who have lots of questions, and the people who can provide answers. For Vicky Calhoun, it's a lifeline.

That's why people like Rehan McNeil were invovled in the study with the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition. They are, to use the cliche, "In the trenches," and can provide real stories and details to statistics or hearsay.

Vicky Calhoun is excited to know that Rehan McNeil is being consulted it the study, and thrilled that that the city is concerned about the future of people like her four year old granddaughter Amarie. But with school, on top of work, on top of raising her grandchild, she's just relieved to have a resource to fall on more than anything.

That's what the report is designed to do. Determine how to help people like Vicky and Amarie maximize this important time in their lives. But while we focus on the individuals and organizations, these snapshots will be taken by the school system. They'll utilize the info, both the statistics and the stories to sharpen their focus on how to best reach everyone, zero to five, and those much older, says McNeil.

In the coming weeks, KWBU-FM will continue to focus on issues related to the report, which can be viewed at www.kwbu.org/childstudy, along with all of our prior stories in the series. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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