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Cattaraugus & Wyoming Counties Project Head Start (CWCPHS)

by eddym
Wed, Sep 13th 2023 12:00 pm


Cattaraugus & Wyoming Counties Project Head Start

For Immediate Release

C.E.O./Executive Director:  Danielle Amore 

716-373-2447, ext. 503                                   

For Information Contact:  Sharon Snyder

716-373-2447, ext. 515


Cattaraugus & Wyoming Counties Project Head Start (CWCPHS) has been doing great work in implementing trauma-informed care for children.  A Co-Creating Well-Being grant awarded by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, has provided them with opportunities to explore new approaches and ensure that children have access to mental health supports.

During Phase 1 of the grant, both Head Start and Healthy Community Alliance attended a workshop focused on human-centered design and trauma-informed care.   In Phase 2, webinars were conducted to gather and interpret input gained from Head Start families and staff using a human-centered approach.  Solutions were sought to address trauma and its impact on children’s learning and success.

In Phase 3, a partnership was formed between Head Start and Healthy Community Alliance (HCA), a non-profit organization in Gowanda, NY and were awarded a CCWB grant.    As a result of staff and parent input, two prototypes were developed: Finally Friday Forums for Head Start staff and Chat with Craig, 1-on-1 private sessions with a mental health consultant.  Dr. Craig Zuckerman, Head Start’s mental health consultant, conducted these sessions and forums. The project also included Family Forums on various topics.   Dr. Zuckerman used age-appropriate play activities when working with children, and counseling sessions were provided at no cost to families.  Staff participated in other mental health and stress-relieving activities, including a 5K Trail Walk and Fun Fab Fridays designed to prevent burnout.  

In early 2023, Ashley Austin, Mental Health & Disabilities Associate Coordinator, and family support staff became nationally certified in Mental Health First Aid during a two-day workshop given by Breanne Abbott and Amy Lanphere through Connecting Communities in Action (CCA).   

To begin the new school year, and to celebrate the end of the grant cycle, CWCPHS hosted presentations by nationally known psychologist, Dr. Darryl Tonemah and local LCSW Trauma Therapists, Breanne Abbott and Laura Widger.  The presentations focused on promoting healthy minds, emotional wellness and the effects of trauma on the brain. Staff have been equipped with tools and resources from the CCWB grant to use with the children.  “Belly Breathe,” a book  by Leslie Kimmelman, is a helpful tool for children and parents to practice self-regulation.  Kazoos and pinwheels were also provided to help children practice relaxation and breathing.   “The staff feels confident and ready for the new school year,” said Danielle Amore, Head Start’s CEO.  “Staff are excited to use their new tools and everything they have learned,” said Amore.   

Darryl Tonemah, from Tonemah Consulting Group and First Nations Telehealth Solutions, has extensive experience in increasing wellness in communities and increasing access to psychological and psychiatric healthcare.  He has appeared in various films, television shows and stage productions, bringing valuable expertise to CWCPHS.

Head Start, a federally funded child development program, has been providing free services to eligible children since 1965.  To learn more about Head Start’s full-day preschool and universal prekindergarten classrooms, visit www.headstartnetwork.com to fill out an enrollment application or call 716-373-2447.