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United Way keeps programs running for kids

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By Kelly Cantrall

United Way of Central Kentucky works to meet the needs of a variety of individuals in its service area. In doing so, it doesn’t forget the youngest residents.

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United Way assists several organizations that are focused on the educational attainment of children in their service area. Organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Panther Place at Elizabethtown Independent Schools, First Connections at Hardin County Schools, and Kids Crew at LaRue County Schools work with students in a variety of ways to boost their academic success. Many are in agreement they couldn’t perform at their current level without United Way’s help.

BBBS uses United Way money to continue its matching program, which pairs up a child with an adult mentor, along with support from a social worker. The organization received $60,000 from United Way in 2011.

Director Emily Reder said United Way money makes up the most significant portion of its budget next to its large fundraising events. The money goes to help pay for professional support matches receive as well as administrative costs, such as background checks on the mentors.

“If we didn’t receive that funding, we wouldn’t be in Hardin County,” Reder said.

Reder said the mission statements of United Way and BBBS match up well. Children involved in BBBS are more likely to develop productive behaviors, such as attending school. More than half of participants are less likely to skip school, according to United Way.

United Way also provides money for Panther Place, an EIS after-school care program. It received $33,000 this year. The money is used for all aspects of operation, Director Vicki Seabolt said.

Without the money, “we would not be able to open our doors,” Seabolt said. They usually have close to 80 kids in the program, and Seabolt estimates they could serve about 10 to 15 without United Way, if that.

First Connections at HCS includes three programs — Cradle School, which helps children younger than school-age learn school readiness skills and teaches the parents to be teachers of their students; Parents as Teachers, which works on the same skills but through home visits; and Teens as Parents, which works on parenting skills with teen parents in local high schools.

First Connections received $57,000 in 2011. That’s more than half of the program’s budget, said Erica Scott, who works with the program at Meadow View Elementary School.

Scott said students involved gain a lot from the programs, and they wouldn’t be as prepared for school without them. Teachers can spot students who have been involved in First Connections, she said.
Kids Crew at LaRue County Schools is a child care program. It received more than $16,000 this year.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.