The Pulaski Technical College Foundation has received a $10,000 community grant from the March of Dimes to help meet its mission of improving the health of babies.
The grant will fund an educational outreach program over the next year aimed
at improving students' knowledge about the prevention of birth defects, premature births and infant mortality and making students more aware of state and local maternal child health programs.
Pulaski Technical College's Early Childhood Development Program will spearhead the program.
"The overall goal of the program is to increase access to and quality of health care for women and infants," said Julie Williams, coordinator of Pulaski Technical College's Early Childhood Development program. "That starts with education."
Pulaski Tech expects to reach at least 500 women who are at risk due to previous past outcomes, chronic conditions and other risk factors.
Emphasis will be placed on reaching students who participate in the Single Parent Support Program, Career Pathways and the TRIO Scholars program, which serves first-generation college students.
Outreach activities will include workshops, a series of Lunch n' Learns and other educational activities.
"Many of our students are not educated on the best techniques for a successful pregnancy and are not aware of the importance of nutrition, exercise, folic acid and other current information," Williams said. "We want to change that and get them the information they need, so they can provide the best for their children."
A collection of books and educational materials on prenatal care, birth defects and other appropriate topics will be on exhibit in Ottenheimer Library and available to all students, faculty and staff.
Program participants will also learn about and receive assistance in registering for state and local maternal child health programs available to them, including Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC.
"We are pleased to be partnering with the March of Dimes Arkansas Chapter," said Joyce Taylor, executive director of the Pulaski Technical College Foundation. "Pulaski Technical College is well-positioned to reach students who will benefit from this outreach. Ultimately, we want all of our students and their families to be healthy and have access to quality health care."
Next year, Pulaski Tech's Early Childhood Development staff will conduct a workshop at the annual Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges conference to describe the program, its techniques, its successes and ideas for replication at other two-year colleges in the state.
The Early Childhood Development staff members are well-educated in pregnancy development, child development, and navigation of the state and local maternal child health programs. Pulaski Technical College is the only two-year college in Arkansas that has undergone the first-ever National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation process for early childhood associate degrees.
Pulaski Tech's Early Childhood Development program trains and educates individuals who work in childcare facilities as managers and caregivers. Program options include an Associate of Applied Science, with options in Early Childhood Education and Program Administration, a two-year technical certificate in Early Childhood Development and a one-semester certificate of proficiency. Courses included Foundations of Early Childhood Education, Child Growth and Development, Environments for Young Children, Child Behavior and Guidance, Preschool Curriculum, Health, Safety and Nutrition for the Young Child and Language Arts.
Pulaski Technical College is a comprehensive, two-year college that serves the educational needs of central Arkansas through more than 50 occupational/technical degree and certificate programs, a university-transfer curriculum and specialized programs for business and industry.
The college's mission is to provide access to high quality education that promotes student learning, to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential and to support the economic development of the state.