HOUGHTON - BHK Child Development is introducing new initiatives and expanding their services to further enhance the quality of programs available today.
Among the new features at BHK, which operates centers in Baraga, Houghton and Keweenaw counties, are an expanded period of daily preschool instruction, playground improvements, expanded openings for infants and toddlers and a new, dual-language program aimed at promoting well-rounded education for children.
BHK Executive Director Michael Poma said BHK recently received grants to develop playgrounds, which included fencing and playground equipment, at four different sites, including Baraga, Centennial, Houghton and L'Anse.
Photos courtesy Roger Wickstrom
Teacher Tracy Newton-Cadeau leads preschoolers in a literacy activity at BHK’s Centennial Child Development Center. BHK is still taking registrations for fall preschool, child care and home-visiting programs, which begin Sept. 19.
"They are now in place for the school year," he said.
BHK has also added two classrooms at the Ryan Center in Hancock, which are now fully functional and will be open in the early fall.
"We hope to add another classroom or two at the Houghton center," he said.
New this year is the Chinese-English dual-language program implemented after seeing a need among local families. With hundreds of Asian graduate students at Michigan Technological University, Poma said a community assessment showed many families at BHK would benefit from the new dual-language program, which could someday grow to encompass other languages, including Finnish, French and Spanish.
"We expect to start small and gradually increase," he said.
The model used to teach the youngsters will focus on a patterned method of teaching one day in English and the next in Chinese. Over time, the children will build a better knowledge of each language.
By offering an expanded period of daily preschool instruction, instructors will be able to devote more time to reading and question-and-answer time, as well as speech development, Poma said. The program also promotes positive math and science learning methods as the children read about those subjects while at BHK.
Due to some shifting and moving of BHK's Head Start slots, the agency is expanding openings for infants and toddlers, private pay services and home visits, Poma said.
BHK is also completing a strategic planning process, which includes efforts to involve and engage the community more. Poma said staff and board members at BHK are working to integrate feedback from families who support BHK. On July 26, the organization invited the community to help mold the vision of the future of BHK.
"We're working to make ourselves a community-based organization with a clear direction for the future," he said.
Cheryl LaRose, BHK program bureau administrator, plays a significant role in the program and aims to see its success.
"It's exciting times," she said.
Heather Store, BHK operations administrator, said with an organization consistently growing like BHK, it's important to continuously consider expanding programs and operations.
"The overall direction of the agency come from Mike and the rest of us are there for support and to help make day-to-day decisions," Store said.
The school year starts Sept. 19, but the center recruits children year-round. Spaces are still available for fall programs, including a home-based option in which trained staff visits families in their own home to promote child development.
Parents with children from birth to 5 years of age are encouraged to register and see what BHK is all about.
To register for BHK's fall preschool and child care, please call 482-3663 or 337-3030 for children in Houghton and Keweenaw counties, respectively, or 524-7300 for children in Baraga County.
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