LOGAN — When Hocking County Board of Developmental Disabilities Early Intervention (EI) and Help Me Grow (HMG) Home Visiting programs had the opportunity to share information with a representative from Governor Mike DeWine’s office, they took full advantage of it.

Michele Hipple, HCBDD Early Childhood Director, Misty Tigner, home visiting supervisor and Stevi Jordan, intern, hosted the visit at their office in Logan.

According to Hipple, this visit was a result of her communication with the Governor.

“After thanking Governor Mike DeWine in March 2019 for his proposed budget generously supporting early childhood efforts, I was linked with the Governor’s staff of Children’s Initiatives,” she remarked.

Hipple shared the following account of their visit.

“The HCBDD Early Childhood Department (ECD) received a visit on Monday, June 3 from Briana Luscheck, Deputy Director of Children’s Initiatives, who requested a visit to see the unique nature of Hocking County’s EI and HMG Home Visiting programs.

“During the visit, ECD staff touched on the effects that statewide decisions have on programs in rural counties, including the move from local referral and outreach addressed at the individual county level to a statewide Centralized Intake and Referral system.

“For Hocking County, this resulted in a loss of a position which is significant for a program staff of six.

“In spite of small numbers, Hocking County operates a robust Early Childhood Program that has a heart for their community, details of which were shared with the Deputy Director by the group at the meeting.”

They gave examples and spoke of unique qualities of Hocking County services.

“In addition to the specific programs of EI and HMG, the ECD Department operates Hocking County’s only diaper and formula bank. We offer Doodlebugs, an early childhood art experience intended for children and their caregivers once a month at the Logan- Hocking Library at no cost to the public. We offer Triple P parenting discussion groups and the annual coordination and organization of Kidpalooza,” Hipple added.

“The Home Visiting program achieved accreditation through Healthy Families America after going through a rigorous review. Healthy Families America is the signature program of Prevent Child Abuse America and is rooted in evidence which supports early, nurturing relationships as the foundation for life-long, healthy development” Hipple continued in her explanation.

“The EI program offers high level service coordination, evaluation and assessment, as well as home-based early intervention services. These services are supported by a team of professionals including a developmental specialist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist and physical therapist as well as consultative support from an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant.

“EI is currently serving 29 children and eight are in the stages of their eligibility being determined,” she commented.

She further explained, “Two full-time home visitors are serving at full capacity with a total of 33 different families. There is currently a waiting list of families wanting to receive our services.

“The home visiting program recently applied for and was awarded a grant through the Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office to onboard one additional full-time home visitor whose caseload will be made up of those affected by the opioid crisis.

“We have completed two interviews and our new home visitor will be joining us later this month. We are beyond excited to be able to serve those waiting for services!” exclaimed Hipple.

Knowing that the Governor’s office is aware of what happens in small towns when unintended consequences of legislative changes take place, is valuable to entities like county boards. Being heard is the first step in the right direction for continuing top-notch service, affected by state-level decisions, for the local families.

More information about any of the programs offered through the HCBDD’s Early Childhood Department is available by calling 740-380-1315.

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