More pre-kindergartners in Erie County will be screened for developmental delays under an initiative, announced by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, to reduce poverty.
Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger says the Help Me Grow program includes training new teachers to spot developmental issues.
"We are going to be doing early detection. But that detection's going to continue once they get into school so they will continue to see if there's any developmental delays that occur as they progress through their years so we can address those issues right away. So they don't go into their teenage years or adult years without anything being identified," Dirschberger said.
Poloncarz says, the approved 2017 budget includes $500,000 for the screening and also an expansion of the summer youth employment program. Rev. Kinzer Pointer, Chair of the County's Poverty Committee says, youth employment programs also offer young people a way to meet mentors.
"So when we connect young people to their future and then we put caring adults around them, even if it's only for this one year, it's going to have a lasting impact," Pointer said.
Poloncarz says, nothing is more important than giving young people the opportunity to succeed and climb out of poverty.