Children First Griswold receives grant to boost literacy, health

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Feb. 4, 2013
C.J., Avery and Tuoyo collaborate on a giant jigsaw puzzle. Children First aims to improve children's readiness for school. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
C.J., Avery and Tuoyo collaborate on a giant jigsaw puzzle. Children First aims to improve children's readiness for school. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The Children First Griswold Early Childhood Collaborative has been tapped to receive a grant that will assist it in preparing all the town’s children for a healthy and positive start in school. The Discovery Grant is funded through the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, and the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Children First aims to improve school readiness through a two-pronged effort, supporting intellectual development as well as physical fitness and health. It works to formulate and implement a community plan to reach that goal, by determining what the community’s needs are and making the necessary resources available to parents of children from birth through age 8.

It serves as a “kind of one-stop shopping for finding out what do we have available” in town for parents of infants, toddlers and preschool-age children, said Children First Griswold coordinator Joy Smith. She said that the agency’s educational component centers on giving parents the tools they need to help their kids prepare for school. It involves “helping parents understand what developmental milestones are… and making that information easily accessible to our residents.” The overall goal, she said, is helping children become “healthy, prepared, successful lifetime learners,” regardless of race or income level.

The agency’s website,, offers a list of educational opportunities for parents of young children, ranging from daycare providers in town to sports and social activities such as Scouts. It also partners with the Griswold public school system and its pre-school program in a “true collaborative nature,” said Smith.

Children First Griswold spearheaded last fall’s Family Fun Day in Jewett City’s Veterans Memorial Park, as well as the upcoming March 3 health and safety expo, part of the Get Healthy Griswold initiative. The agency is also sponsoring the Backus Mobile Health Resource Center’s twice-monthly visits to Griswold, where residents can receive blood pressure, lead level testing and vision screenings, as well as flu vaccines and DTaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccines. The visits take place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month and alternate locations between Griswold Town Hall on Main Street and the school campus.

“This mobile outreach is crucial, as many of our families have limited access to health care,” said Beth Ware, chairperson of Children First Griswold.

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