Pocono Services for Families and Children (PSFC) is celebrating 45 years of commitment to provide supportive services for young children and their families of Monroe County so they can enjoy success in school and life.

It reached out to the Western Pocono Women's Club, asking the members to help them continue the important services it provides the community when Amber Koert, a PSFC parent involvement specialist and advocate, attended WPWC's September meeting and spoke about who and what PSFC is.

In 1965, the PSFC six-week pilot educational program began with 12 children on the campus of East Stroudsburg University and has grown to serving over 200 children and families in comprehensive programs in five classroom locations throughout Monroe County.

"As a former Head Start parent, I know first hand what PSFC can do. My son had some special needs and through Head Start, he began a life-long love of learning. Now I help other families. I love my job," said Amber.

PSFC's Head Start program is for preschool children of low income families and for children with disabilities. They receive hands-on classroom experiences, health screenings and nutritious meals.

"We help families understand the importance of good nutrition, make sure all children have immunizations, educate the parents as to what is available to them and have classrooms in Brodheadsville, East Stroudsburg and Coolbaugh. We want to give the children a safe learning environment to prepare them for public school," said Amber.

There are no fees for the Head Start classes if the family qualifies.

Full time day-care is offered, with a fee, but families can apply for a subsidy.

PSFC offers free parenting education classes that are open to the entire community. The curriculum includes tools to provide parents with how to give positive discipline, manage anger, child development, and effective communications with your child.

In PSFC's Youth Mentoring Initiative program, it engages young adults from area high schools and colleges to work one-on-one with PSFC students. It increases teamwork and helps them all build self-esteem, master new skills and connect with their community.

Food for Families provides emergency food aid to enrolled families and PSFC's advocates work with families to connect them with food pantries, WIC and food stamp programs.

The Pre-K Counts targets 3-5 year olds, at risk for school failure due to income, language, cultural or special needs issues and prepares them for a successful transition into kindergarten.

There is a Child Development Associate program that provides early childhood development professional education training, which is open to all local child care providers.

PSFC is one of only four children's programs in Monroe County to have earned accreditation by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, which is very difficult to obtain. It is also a Keystone Stars 4-Star Merit Award Program.

Scholarships for Head Start graduates are available.

PSFC is nonprofit and relies heavily upon grants and donations to continue serving their clients. You can claim a charitable deduction in addition to a tax credit if you donate.

"We do more than Head Start. We believe that if a child is fed, feels safe, has a loving family around them, it provides a better learning environment for the child. If you have a child who can't hold a scissor correctly or know how to socialize, kindergarten would be very hard for them. We try to make that transition easier for them," said Amber.

If you would like to become a PSFC volunteer, make a donation. or learn more about Pocono Services for Families and Children, contact Tim Lee, Executive Director at 570-421-2711, ext. 228 or email: timlee@psfc.org or visit the website at www.psfc.org.

The Western Pocono Women's Club meets the third Monday of the month. The next meeting will be a New Member Night on Monday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. with a potluck dinner. It would be a perfect time to visit with the ladies and learn more about the good works the club does for the community. If you have any questions, you can call Vicki Connor, president, at 570-977-4303 or email her at jconnor@ptd.net.